A new crazy golf course has opened on Exmouth seafront – but it may soon be replaced by a car park.
Harry Parkin, owner of the Exmouth Leisure Amusements, has opened the newly installed Treasure Island Adventure Golf course.
The pirate-themed course is laid out outside the arcade building and will complement the crazy golf course that was inherited from the Wright family when their lease on the Fun Park ran out.
The course opened on Thursday and costs £3 for adults and £1.50 for children to use, with it having a family focus.
But Mr Parkin, who has run Exmouth Leisure Amusements for 25 years, is fearful of the future of his crazy golf business. His lease only has four years left and the land is set to be used for car parking once the seafront improvements are finalised.
An East Devon District Council spokesman said that Mr Parkin is aware of the longstanding plans for the area and that the land is set to be used for much needed parking.
Mr Parkin said: “I wanted to expand on what I currently have and what I inherited and add another attraction to what we currently have.
“The course is portable and is built on a 40ft container and while it may not be as good as a purpose built mini golf course, I only have four years left on my lease so am limited in what I can do due to the short term tenure I have.
“My future is uncertain. I want to remain in business and have asked, but have had no assurances from the council.
“I have put forward my proposals to redevelopment the site, but anything that I do seems to fall on deaf ears, so I don’t know want the future holds.
“The building is deteriorating but I am not in a position to do anything with a short term lease. I have asked to redevelop the site and make it better with a longer lease, but they seem to think the site would be better served as a car park, and I don’t know why. I am treated as if I am the enemy by the council.”
Crazy golf and development
He added that his business has already suffered as a result of the works taking place on the seafront and that the hoardings around the site and the restricted access means it is like ‘Fort Knox’ for visitors trying to find it.
“I will and stay open throughout the winter and will do my best but if they are developing around me, people don’t want to be standing next door to diggers.”
Mr Parkin added: “I am for progress and development on the seafront and I want to be able to redevelop the site and for it to fit in with the rest of the seafront development, but at the moment, there is no sign of them wanting anything other than a car park on the site.
“If the council can give me security and a longer tenure then I can develop something to fit it with the proposals. Lots of people ask me what I’m doing and if we are closing, but at the moment I only have the site for four more years.”
Asked what he thinks should happen to the seafront, he said that it should be something for the public to decide that they want to see.
“The public should be able to decide what they want on the seafront but I am not able to properly invest in the site.”
But he added: “We are a seaside tourist town so we need businesses that are appropriate to that. There is no good for instance putting a boutique hotel in. That may be fine for Sandbanks – but we aren’t Sandbanks.”
Phase 1 of the Exmouth seafront regeneration project – the new Queen’s Drive car park and the realigning of the seafront Queen’s Drive road away from the beach – was completed in June, and work on phase 2, the new watersports centre, has begun with Grenadier Estates having taken over the lease of the site, with a target for the centre to be built by June 2020.
Phase 3 will see a mixed use leisure area provided on the seafront and a report is planned to come forward with more details on the outcome of the work of Hemingway Design and Lambert Smith Hampton and advising on a timetable of next steps to October 2 meeting of East Devon District Council’s cabinet.
An East Devon District Council spokesman said: “The council has been in regular communication with the tenant regarding the completion of his tenancy. He is aware of the longstanding plans for the area that are now being delivered.
“The building in question currently occupies land that will be used for additional and much needed parking as part of the programme of seafront improvements underway.”