Seafront development set to be delayed after scrutiny say selection panel ‘not properly balanced’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 March 2020

Image of Queen's Drive showing Phase 3 marked in red. Picture: East Devon District Council

Image of Queen's Drive showing Phase 3 marked in red. Picture: East Devon District Council


The regeneration of Exmouth seafront is set to be delayed after the district council’s scrutiny committee objected to the composition of a panel tasked with deciding the site’s future.

East Devon District Council's cabinet had agreed to launch a formal marketing exercise to identify a developer or operator for a potential 80-room hotel and a waterfront restaurant as part of phase three of the Queen's Drive project.

The cabinet agreed that the selection panel for identifying the selection criteria for the development should be made up from EDDC leader Ben Ingham, portfolio holders for asset management, finance and economy, relevant officers and one Exmouth councillor.

The district council's scrutiny committee unanimously agreed the panel was not properly balanced saying it should have one councillor from each of the five Exmouth wards and officers should not have a voting right. It had been hoped that bids for the development could be received and reviewed by May, with a report on the preferred developer/operator in July, but that looks set to be delayed.

The next full council meeting will not take place until Wednesday, April 22, with the council then making a recommendation back to the cabinet at their meeting on Wednesday, May 6.

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the East Devon Alliance, who had called the decision in, said: 'The number of elected members taking part in the selection panel is too few and it has insufficient Exmouth democratic representatives.'

Exmouth councillor Nick Hookway said that the theme seemed to be people meddling in Exmouth who have no link or understanding about what is going on.

Cllr Chris Wright, who ran the former Fun Park on the seafront, said that in the past there was a selection panel of four people and 'the council ended up with a bankrupt developer'. He added: 'This panel should be widened to find a clear and robust process to move the development forward.'

Cllr Maddy Chapman added: 'This is not what the public signed up to. There needs to be more involvement with the local people. We don't want a developer - we want what we were told we would get, and it is about time people pulled their socks up.'

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