Unlocking seafront

PUBLISHED: 17:11 11 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:28 10 June 2010

MONDAY, AUGUST 11: WIDESPREAD development of Exmouth seafront could be triggered once the district council disposes of decades-old covenants set in place to protect public land. First among future projects for the town's premier tourist spot will be a long-awaited investiga

WIDESPREAD development of Exmouth seafront could be triggered once the district council disposes of decades-old covenants set in place to protect public land.First among future projects for the town's premier tourist spot will be a long-awaited investigation into new estuary access - a slipway tagged for Queens Drive.Development at Orcombe Point could follow, with a cafe/restaurant scheme rumoured.Already on the cards are the selling off of Elizabeth Hall for development, and a Caribbean-style new windsurf HQ for local business Waterfront Sports, a scheme delayed by a year due to wrangling over the covenant deal.Covenants were set by the former Lord Clinton when 56 acres of seafront land, including Elizabeth Hall and The Maer, were purchased by the long-dissolved Exmouth Urban District Council for just £9,000 in 1920.East Devon District Council is now locked in negotiations with Clinton Devon Estates to lift restrictions - and could go to a land tribunal to settle the matter. Clinton Devon maintain they are happy to lift covenants and are now seeking advice on best value for all parties. A council spokesperson said: "EDDC is adopting an holistic approach to its bid to lift the covenants. This is a part of the council's commitment to enable investment into the town to encourage a thriving economy and improve the tourism offer."EDDC's 'Champion for Exmouth', Cllr Darryl Nicholas, welcomed moves to update facilities. "For many years there has been a need for high-quality indoor facilities, particularly those that are family-orientated," he said."Key also to the future of the town is an upgrade of waterside facilities. Water-users often cite the difficulty in launching from Exmouth and we don't want to lose them to other towns." Former mayor Eileen Wragg issued a note of caution this week, saying: "I think Clinton Devon have been very good custodians in East Devon - these covenants were obviously placed to protect the seafront. "A lot of the charm of the seafront is its openness. I hope very much that, with any changes, the environment will be considered, and not just sold off to the highest bidder."Elsewhere on The Esplanade, developers the Moorfield Group - currently in talks with the University of Plymouth over Rolle College land - confirmed to the Journal their ownership of a prime seafront location - the Imperial Hotel.

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