Hotel, eatery and play zone vision for Exmouth seafront remains in limbo

Plans for the future of Exmouth seafront will remain in limbo after the coronavirus crisis further delaying big decisions on the bid. 

Proposals for the final phase of development on Queen’s Drive include a high-quality waterfront restaurant, a 60-80-room hotel and a play and leisure area.

But the vision’s progress with East Devon District Council (EDDC) has been beset by delays so far this year.

The latest of which in March saw the authority’s Scrutiny Committee rule a panel tasked with deciding selection criteria for the marketing of the site to developers and operators was not properly balanced.

That recommendation should have gone to full council to debate on April 22, then EDDC’s cabinet on May 6 for a final decision.

However, both meetings have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a virtual meeting of the Scrutiny Committee yesterday (Thursday), its chairman Councillor Cathy Gardner said: “The marketing exercise remains on hold until full council and cabinet have met again.”

It had initially been hoped that bids would be received and reviewed by May, with a report on a recommendation on preferred a developer/operator to be considered in July.

EDDC currently has no leader or cabinet following the resignation of Councillor Ben Ingham and his Independent Group colleagues on Monday.

A new administration is set to be formed at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, May 28.

Temporary attractions at the Queen’s Drive Space – which replaced the former Exmouth Fun Park –  only have permission to stay on the site until March 2022.

No further extension is allowed under planning law unless they are made permanent.

An EDDC spokesperson said a schedule of meetings will be updated after a new administration is appointed next week.

The vision for Queen’s Drive features a ‘sun and sandals’ cafe, high-quality waterfront restaurant, 60-80 bedroom hotel, and an area for play and leisure.

Watchdog delays decisions over hotel, eatery and play zone on Exmouth seafront

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