Pedestrianising parts of Exmouth town centre, and the seafront, building a multi-storey car park and turning the Pavilion over to sports have been dreamed up as part of multi-million pound facelift plans.
Several “blue-sky” ideas have been put forward for how Exmouth could be given a facelift, writes local democracy reporter Will Goddard.
Changes to the area around the railway station, the town and the seafront were suggested by consulting firm WSP at an East Devon District Council (EDDC) meeting this week.
An extended forecourt is proposed at the station, followed by a public space which could be used for events, as well as a children’s play area and visitor centre. A new leisure centre, theatre, GWRSA facility, and multi-storey car park would also be built at the current Imperial Road short-stay car park.
The ideas are separate to Devon County Council’s plans for the station area, which include new crossings and filling in the subway.
Heading into town, WSP suggests extending the public space along Church Street and introducing more foliage, and also creating a space alongside Tower Street Methodist Church to “reposition the town centre as a pedestrian-friendly place.”
At the seafront, the firm explains how Exmouth Pavilion could be turned into a sports facility to “complement the leisure centre,” with a new public space opposite in place of the Beach Gardens car park. “Sculptural stairs” towards the Ocean leisure complex could provide access to the beach and also provide seating.
The last of its proposals included a new “arts and culture hub” at Foxholes car park, a new multi-storey car park on Maer Road, and a pedestrianised Queen’s Drive towards Orcombe Point with “pods” for a variety of uses.
No car parking places would be lost, just “consolidated” and the concepts are not set in stone.
If all WSP’s ideas were to be implemented, it estimated the base cost could be just under £6 million between 2024 and 2026.
Cllr Olly Davey (Green, Exmouth Town) was impressed with the proposals, but says the public should be asked what they think.
He said: “I think it’s really important that we listen to local people as we go along.
“Unless we ensure that we take the people of Exmouth with us, we are going to get a lot of push back.
“And it’s not always because people don’t like what we’re doing, but they resent the fact that they weren’t asked, they weren’t told, and they weren’t involved.
“So please let’s make sure that we really use meaningful consultation. We cannot run this and deliver it without the buy-in of the people of Exmouth.”
Cllr Geoff Jung (Lib Dem, Woodbury and Lympstone) said EDDC would need to think about sewage-related constraints.
He said: “We need to work with the Environment Agency on the engineering and the climate resilience, and we need to work with South West Water with their infrastructure at the moment because South West Water pumping station is at Maer Road car park and there’s tanks underneath the car park, which we would have to consider when we’re putting a multi-storey car park there.
“We’ve also got sewage tanks underneath Imperial Road car park and again we’ll have to consider that. Having a car park and a sports hall above a sewage tank, there’s question marks there.
“We also need to work with [Devon County Council] highways because of their parking, the roads.
“It all forms part of a jigsaw. We’re well aware that South West Water are making big investments in Exmouth. And this project, a lot of these things will need to fit hand in hand with what they want to do.”
- See the full details of the Placemaking Plan here.