Rugby club earmarked for new supermarket

A superstore on the Exe Estuary is once again on the cards, two-and-a-half-years after Asda pulled the plug on its plans for Exmouth.

But this time the favoured site is Exmouth Rugby Club’s training ground and not the leisure centre and bus station.

Any new superstore should be part of a larger complex including shops and homes.

It’s all part of the long-awaited Exmouth Town Centre and Seafront draft Masterplan which was released this week and the next step is for residents to have their say.

The huge, 170-page, three-part consultation draft document has been months in the making, commissioned by East Devon District Council and penned by LDA consultants.

It sets out a vision for Exmouth in the short, medium and long term and kicks off a public consultation lasting up to 12 weeks, starting on June 27 and probably ending in September.

The draft of the Exmouth Town Centre and Seafront Masterplan calls for a supermarket on the Estuary and reads: “A food store on the estuaryside would bring much-needed investment that would enable improved links between the town centre and the estuary and to the harbour, as well as the wider regeneration of the estuary side.

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“Through proposed relocation of the rugby club to an alternative, suitable site, there is opportunity to provide a new food store to act as an anchor store on the western side of the town centre.”

The superstore, reads the report, should be part of an ‘integrated mixed-use development’ and ‘associated residential development’ could provide new homes.

But the report also recognises concerns that the training ground sits on top of a landfill site and there could be contamination and stability ‘issues’.

“If the food store cannot be built on the rugby ground… then an alternative site… on the existing leisure centre/bus depot site may need to be considered.”

But it adds that the London Inn site ‘is not considered appropriate’ because it is too small.

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said they had to ensure Exmouth attracted visitors, residents and dealt ‘effectively’ with pressure from supermarkets wanting to invest in Exmouth, while protecting the interests of the rugby club.

“The report is, therefore, a collation of ideas put forward by various sections of the community. These range from things that may be easy to deliver, to some that are highly aspirational and all shades in between.

“Only when we have collected the responses from the coming consultation will we start making a list of sites and projects that seem to be the most popular and which, of course, pass the viability test.”

These will then turn into development briefs that district council members can debate and agree before a town strategy is completed.

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