A first glimpse of proposals for the future of Exmouth seafront is expected to be revealed next month.
The controversial scheme to redevelop Queen’s Drive and replace the former fun park will eventually see a mixed-use leisure area created.
Temporary attractions, including the dinosaur-themed play park, are currently occupying the site.
Phase One of the Exmouth seafront regeneration project – the new Queen’s Drive car park and the realigning of the road away from the beach – was completed in June.
Work on Phase Two, the new watersports centre, has begun – with Grenadier Estates having taken over the lease of the site and aiming to complete work by June 2020.
Phase Three will see a mixed-use leisure area provided. A report detailing the outcome of the work of consultants Hemingway Design and Lambert Smith Hampton – and advising on a timetable of next steps – is expected to go before the October 2 meeting of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet.
The cabinet is also meeting this evening (Wednesday) night, where it has been recommended to agree to dissolve the Exmouth Regeneration Board and Exmouth Regeneration Project Executive – and that an Exmouth Queen’s Drive Delivery Group be established in its place.
A report by EDDC’s deputy chief executive Richard Cohen states the group will be made up of district and town councillors supported by officers, will be ‘delivery-focused’, and will have an overview of Phase Three delivery in particular.
The group will meet a minimum of four times in a year, in private, to ensure that confidential or commercially-sensitive matters can be discussed, but meeting notes will be published through the council’s cabinet papers.
Mr Cohen added: “The purpose of the group is to ensure that the members are kept appraised of the position regarding the Queen’s Drive project; its progress and current issues.
“It will be the forum where members can discuss the opportunities and complexities relating to the project’s delivery, arising sometimes as a result of commercially sensitive or confidential matters which cannot be more widely shared.
“The group will support further public and stakeholder engagement activities and, through their membership of the group, will promote the optimal outcomes for Exmouth in delivering the redevelopment programme.
“It will also contribute to the work underway by external advisers, Hemingway Design and Lambert Smith Hampton, currently engaged by the council to advise on future uses on the Phase 3 site in terms of vision and commercial viability.”
He added that the group is an advisory and it will remain the case that key decisions in relation to the redevelopment of Queen’s Drive will be debated and decided by the cabinet and full council.
The delivery group would hold its first meeting during September and receive the latest information on the work of the external professional advisors HemingwayDesign Ltd and Lambert Smith Hampton in preparation of a cabinet report in October.
Lambert Smith Hampton has been undertaking an exercise to ‘soft market test’ the current development market against the existing planning consent and emerging ideas in real market conditions.
Hemingway Design ran a survey last year to get to the heart of what the mixed-use leisure area of the Queen’s Drive development could become and what the public’s thoughts and ideas were.
It is proposed that the membership of the delivery group will comprise the following councillors from the district and town councils:
- Council leader (chair) – Cllr Ben Ingham
- Deputy leader (vice-chair) – Cllr Susie Bond
- Portfolio holder, economy – Cllr Kevin Blakey
- Portfolio holder, sustainable homes and communities – Cllr Megan Armstrong
- EDDC ward member, Exmouth Littleham – Cllr Nick Hookway
- EDDC ward member, Exmouth Littleham – Cllr Bruce De Sarum
- EDDC ward member, Exmouth Town – Cllr Olly Davey
- Exmouth Mayor – Cllr Steve Gazzar
- An additional Exmouth Town Council member