Council chiefs to ‘reset’ and ‘reflect’ in autumn over Exmouth seafront redevelopment

Plans for the final phase of redevelopment on Exmouth seafront will ‘have a bit of a reset’ in the autumn, district council bosses have revealed. 

A vision for a high-quality restaurant, 60-80 bedroom hotel and play area on Queen’s Drive was narrowly backed in February when representatives agreed to launch a marketing exercise.

But the scheme has since been beset by delays – with the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and a new administration on East Devon District Council (EDDC) meaning changes are now possible.

The authority said this week it will ‘re-engage with a new consensus’ on how best to progress the project.

Members’ decision to launch a marketing exercise – and gauge commercial interest in the proposals – was ‘called in’ to EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee in March over claims a selection panel was not properly balanced.

The matter has yet to be debated by full council and cabinet members – with this now unable to happen before the end of October.

At EDDC’s July cabinet meeting, EDDC chief executive Mark Williams told councillors: “Somewhat inevitably, really, the impact of Covid-19 on the commercial property market and the economy generally is something that we’re going to have to assess.

“The intention behind the selection panel has perhaps been overtaken by events.

“At the moment we’re seeing the opportunity to have a bit of a reset in the early autumn with a general update for members as to where we are with Queen’s Drive and how we got to where we are – and then perhaps a reflection and an opportunity to say, in light of the changed circumstances, what potentially is the best way of going forward.”

An EDDC spokesperson said this week: “‘The council now has a new administration.

“Combined with the economic impact of Covid-19 and our departure from the EU, the opportunity will be taken this autumn to reflect upon the proposals and ambitions for the Queen’s Drive area and re-engage with a new consensus for how might be the best way of progressing matters.”

Current temporary attractions at the Queen’s Drive Space only have planning permission until March 2022 – with no further extensions allowed under planning law.

Suggested uses for the plot include a two-storey café/restaurant on the existing Harbour View café site, a three- or four-star hotel of ‘high design quality’ and a mix of play and open public space.

The previous two phases of redevelopment on Exmouth seafront have seen the road along Queen’s Drive realigned and the construction of watersports centre Sideshore, set to open in the autumn.

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Narrow backing for Exmouth seafront hotel, café/restaurant and play zone vision as part of final phase of Queen’s Drive redevelopment

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