Permanent beach volleyball court in Exmouth ‘would be tremendous asset for town and region’

Exmouth could become a regional centre for beach volleyball if a sports club in the town gets its way.

Exmouth Beach Volleyball Club has asked East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Queen’s Drive Delivery Group to consider allowing a permanent court on the beach.

Beach volleyball nets have been on Exmouth beach since the 1980s, writes Local Democracy Reporter Joe Ives.

Permanent nets were on the beach for around seven years before being washed away in 2014.

The club still makes use of the area every summer, but now wants to create a permanent court on part of  Queen’s Drive currently being used as a temporary car park.

It says it has a wide appeal with members ranging from 12 to 60-years-old who come from Dawlish, Plymouth, Exeter and Tavistock as well as Exmouth.

Speaking on behalf of the club, Mark Myerson said a permanent court ‘could attract some of the best players in the country through tournaments, and provide us with a unique space for many other activities such as beach football, beach rugby, beach tennis, beach netball, fitness classes and other outdoor events’.

He added: “We feel this would be a tremendous asset for the town and region, providing leisure facilities for locals and a reason for hundreds of people to visit Exmouth.”

Mr Myerson is confident that funding could be organised if the court is a permanent fixture.

But EDDC officers say the authority can only set up one-year agreements until a permanent decision is made on how to use the land in question.

There are concerns that if a small section of the beach is permanently set aside for the volleyball club, larger projects could be prevented from going ahead.

The delivery group was told: “There is a danger that we end up in isolation, picking particular uses that then impact on – and negate – a bigger comprehensive development.

“Now that comprehensive development might indeed include a beach volleyball court and there might be, through a comprehensive development, a good way of being able to fund that, either through external funding or through other commercial returns made from the site.

“But all of that needs to be considered as one, otherwise we’ll end up with lots of things that are sort of pepper-potted around and we’ll have bits of land leftover that we just can’t do anything with because we’ve already committed to doing other things on the adjacent bit.”

Exmouth Littleham representative Councillor Chris Wright said he understood the concerns, but suggested officers speak to the volleyball club to see if a temporary arrangement could be agreed.

He added that it was a ‘very compelling’ idea given the number of people interested across different age groups.

“This is something that surely we want that particular area to be used for because that sounds pretty inclusive to me,” said Cllr Wright.

Officers agreed to speak to the volleyball club about potential uses in the short-term.

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