Work on a new tramway stop at Seaton Wetlands is set to begin in January ahead of a planned Easter opening.
East Devon councillors also heard that plans for a café, a circular route, and improvements to the visitor hub and public toilets are in the pipeline.
Proposals for a fourth Seaton Tramway stop – at the wetlands’ existing Swan’s Nest ‘passing loop’ – were approved this month.
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet unanimously agreed to enter into the required legal agreements to facilitate the construction of a boardwalk and footbridge across Colyford Common to link with the proposed tram halt construction.
Service lead for countryside and leisure Charlie Plowden told Wednesday’s meetings: “This is good news and the scheme will provide direct access onto the wetlands.
“The estimated footfall directly attributable to the tram halt is thought to be in the region of 25,000 people per year, mainly during the peak tourist season.
“However, as this adds a truly unique aspect to the attraction’s already popular offer, we fully expect these numbers to grow.
“The route chosen will bring people directly from the tramway to the heart of the Seaton Wetlands complex at an area known as Stafford Marsh, where our engagement hub `The Discovery Centre’ is located.
“Devon County Council has budgeted and will commence work on a connecting stretch of the Stop Line Way cycle path between Black Hole Marsh and Seaton Marshes nature reserves this financial year and so allow a circular exploration loop of the lower Axe estuary to be made by visitors, providing an exciting draw for both wildlife enthusiasts and tourists.
“This will again help to further enhance the visitor experience to Seaton and boost the local economy.
“This will also look to further extend the tram’s winter season with the links to the wildlife offer, and there are further plans to monetise the new footfall with plans to develop a café offer in 2021, a new circular route, and the whole visitor hub area.
“The tramway plans to start construction in January 2021 and to get it done before an Easter 2021 opening, which is very soon and excellent news.”
Backing the plans, Councillor Jack Rowland said: “This is part of the continuing success story of the Seaton Wetlands area, so I welcome what is happening here.
“I welcome the extra visitors and the spin off effect for the economy of Seaton, which will help the other business in the area.”
Cllr Dan Ledger added the scheme was joining together a lot of Seaton’s largest assets and adding to the economy within the town.
Cllr Geoff Jung said: “This is good news for the award-winning Seaton Wetlands.”