East Devon reaffirms its commitment to Exmouth, its largest town
Two key decisions, which are especially important to East Devon’s biggest town, were taken by East Devon District Council last night (Wednesday, December 21, 2016)
The council has agreed to invest £1.7m in modernising Exmouth Town Hall. This important building will be a new multi-service hub for Exmouth and the surrounding area. Around 40% of the district’s population lives in the Exmouth catchment area so the council realises it makes sense to provide public facing services in the town.
The reception area will be redesigned and much more accessible and user friendly. Upstairs, the Council Chamber and public space will be opened up and redesigned to allow for bigger meetings and more room for the public.
Key advice services like Housing and Benefits will be based at the town hall and other services will be available there as demand requires it such as Planning and Environmental Health. Having district council staff based full time in the building should be very helpful to the local economy as well. On top of that, the Town Hall has space set aside to welcome back organisations who have left to enable the modernisation work to happen. The council would like to bring back Exmouth Town Council, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Register Office and volunteers to rejoin the CCTV unit in the building again.
Exmouth Town Hall modernisation is part of the council’s wider commitment for efficiency and savings that will come from relocating from its current offices in Sidmouth which are expensive and outdated. The recent application to develop the Sidmouth site was turned down by the council’s Development Management Committee so that particular part of the jigsaw of relocation for the council needs to be resolved. In the meantime, accelerating Exmouth Town Hall refurbishment makes sense while the council considers the options for achieving the other aspects of relocation, namely leaving the Knowle site in Sidmouth and building a new HQ in Honiton.
Additional funding of £1.6m was also confirmed by the council to invest in modernising and bringing forward new attractions on Exmouth seafront at the Queen’s Drive site. Investment has been delayed for two years by legal proceedings and added significant cost.
It is really important to see new attractions in Exmouth so that the town keeps up with the times. We all want Exmouth to continue to do better at competing with other seaside towns and offer all year round leisure, sport and entertainment that meets the expectations of its residents as well as its visitors. Good changes are happening and the council’s investment is part of the new confidence that Exmouth is showing.
The money that the council has committed is an upfront sum to get development going. Through a combination of private investment, grant funding and revenues the council expects to recoup its investment and in the meantime Exmouth will have new jobs, all year round attractions, more visitors and more for local people to enjoy next to the town’s beautiful and unspoilt beach.
Cllr Diviani added:
This is a council that invests in its communities and gives cost effective services. Our investments in Exmouth’s seafront and its Town Hall will be important boosts to the town. For the wider district we will continue to pursue our plans to save money and further improve customer services through the relocation of our headquarters.