Cllr Philip Skinner meets members of an interest group at public meeting

East Devon District Council’s Exmouth Regeneration Chairman Councillor Philip Skinner has reiterated his commitment to rejuvenate the town’s seafront at a public meeting called to discuss the future of the area.

Cllr Skinner met around 40 members of the public at the meeting about the council’s Queen’s Drive project and was able to explain to them the next stages of the proposals for the site and answer questions.

The seafront project is split into three phases. The first and second phases are to realign the Queen’s Drive road and car park, which is being funded by the council, and working with the council’s development partners Grenadier to build the £4 million water sports centre.

The council is now looking for fresh ideas for the third and final phase of the project which involves the remainder of the golf site, the fun park and the Harbour View Cafe sites. This area has been earmarked for a mix of leisure uses and consulting with residents, visitors and businesses will be a key priority as this phase of the project moves forward.

Cllr Skinner said that he went along to the meeting as it was open to the public and he wanted to meet members of an interest group who are against the plans and had organised the event.

He said:

For some time now members of the group and I have been trying to arrange to meet and as this was a public meeting it seemed an ideal opportunity to go along and talk to them. I have been concerned about some misinformation that I have heard and that has been publicised about the project. I was able to correct some of the inaccuracies that have been circulating and I hope I reassured those who attended the meeting that everyone will be further consulted as the phases move forward so that Exmouth gets the very best new attractions that the town needs.

The chairman of the group thanked me personally afterwards for attending. In an email to me he said that my ‘welcome contribution to (the) meeting has improved our impression of the commitment you give to Exmouth and East Devon.

Cllr Skinner said that he was specifically asked about consultation around the project. He said:

I have made it very clear that Grenadier will be holding its own full public consultation before any formal detailed planning application for the water sports centre is made. There will be further public consultation during the planning application process.

In addition, the council will be carrying out further consultation on the third and final phase of the project and is looking to commission external expertise to produce a fresh new vision for this phase. We will again consult with our residents, businesses and tourists at this stage as we want people to have their say from the outset and this will be independent of any developers or investors that come on board later.

The council will shortly be putting in a reserved matters application focusing on the site which is a technical exercise following on from the outline planning permission it was given almost two years ago.

Cllr Skinner said:

The council wants to ensure that we have continued planning permission so that the water sports centre consultation and necessary planning application for this wonderful facility can come forward in the Spring. It will also pave the way for fresh ideas and a new vision and public consultation around phase 3 of the Queen’s Drive site.

This reserved matters application is very much a technical exercise and follows on from the outline planning permission. We must provide the Development Management Committee with further designs for the site as part of this more detailed application.

I can assure residents that there are no other developers involved in the project at this stage and the council does not intend to develop the Queen’s Drive site on the basis of this reserved matters application and the designs attached to it. Let me scotch any rumours from the outset of plans for high rise buildings on Queen’s Drive or residential development in this application.

Further information about the Queen’s Drive project is available on the council’s website under ‘Regeneration Projects’ and includes an updated frequently asked questions section on the Queen’s Drive project.