Saturday 22 June 2013

East Devon and toursim

As the The New East Devon Local Plan makes clear, tourism is a vital industry in these parts:

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Tourism in East Devon 

16.17 Tourism is a key sector in the East Devon economy. The coastal towns of East Devon form one of the focal points for tourism but the draw to visitors extends beyond these resorts into the stunning coastline between them, the wonderful countryside and the picture postcard villages that East Devon has to offer. The Local Plan will support tourism throughout the District with the onus on encouraging high quality attractions, facilities and tourist accommodation. Tourism development will be encouraged, particularly where it enhances and capitalises on the geology, wildlife, coastline, countryside, historic environment and other assets that are unique to the District.

Strategy 33 - Promotion of Tourism in East Devon: 

The Council will support and facilitate high quality tourism in East Devon that promotes a year round industry that is responsive to changing visitor demands. Tourism growth should be sustainable and should not damage the natural assets of the District but aim to attract new tourism related businesses that can complement the high quality environment of East Devon.

However, there's a question of funding:

Call to support tourist information centres

Katy Griffin Friday, May 24, 2013 
More financial help is needed to ensure a valuable asset remains in Honiton for the benefit of the local community and visitors.
The chairman of Honiton Tourist Information Centre, Colin Wright, says more help is needed from East Devon District Council and Devon County Council to ensure tourist information centres in Honiton and East Devon are maintained. “It is important tourist information centres are maintained and should be helped by East Devon District Council and Devon County Council as in some counties, for example Yorkshire in particular, they are funded by their councils to the tune of £12.4million...”
East Devon District Council provides the building for the tourist information centre in Honiton.
At a breakfast meeting of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, earlier this month, MP Neil Parish was asked whether more money could be made available to tourist information centres in light of closures in Cornwall. “Tourism is very important to us down here.” He explained that Wales gets more of the tourism grant and there was a need to distribute it more equally. Mr Parish added: “That is where there is an argument. As far as I am concerned, we need to give more and spread it more equally and therefore get a bit more for England and the West Country. “We don’t get our fair share. That is what we need to do... When you go to a town or area you don’t know, the first thing you do is go in the tourist information centre. It is important to have this. What we don’t want to do is close everything down.”
An East Devon District Council spokesman said: “Tourism is an important part of the local economy and we support it in many different ways, including providing the use of council-owned buildings for several tourist information centres. We are always happy to talk to local groups about how we can provide the right help to support tourism but, of course, this has to be considered against our wider budget and the ongoing need to save money in the face of national funding cuts.”

This week, concerns about the impact of development on tourism were voiced:

SEATON & COLYTON: Green wedge plans rejected

19th June 2013
by Anders Larsson
CAMPAIGNERS trying to save the green wedge between Seaton and Colyton won a resounding victory when district councillors threw out plans to build up to 170 dwellings plus offices, industrial units and other facilities on land east of Harepath Road in Seaton.
A coach-load of objectors to the plan descended on East Devon District Council (EDDC) headquarters in Sidmouth for the outline planning application hearing on Tuesday, June 11th.
The hearing lasted about two hours and members of EDDC’s Development Management Committee voted 11-0 (two abstentions) against the proposal.
The land in question is known as the green wedge and planning officers had recommended approval.
But members of the Development Management Committee listed a catalogue of concern, including the loss of agricultural land, impact on wildlife and financial harm to the tourism industry.
The report prepared for committee members runs to more than 60 A4 pages.
In recommending approval, planning officers said: “The council is vulnerable on housing supply throughout the district and has lost several appeals on this basis.
“It is considered that the proposed development would help with the council’s five-year land supply, deliver sustainable development and provide a number of important benefits.
“While the loss of high grade agricultural land and part of the green wedge weigh against the application, on balance it is considered that the social and economic benefits of this development justify a recommendation of approval.”
But planners’ arguments failed to win support.
Seaton town councillor Val Christmas was one of many concerned people who spoke, saying EDDC had stated its commitment to promote Seaton as a green tourism destination.
A development of this size and in this location would go against that commitment, she claimed.
The mayor of neighbouring Colyford, Howard West, said: “We cannot carry on like this, you are destroying Seaton and now Colyford.
Colyford resident Robin Pocock asked planning officers if they could categorically say that former district councillor Graham Brown had not had any involvement in the application. Mr Brown, a planning consultant, resigned earlier this year after being filmed by a national newspaper apparently claiming he could influence the planning process. Although not illegal to combine planning consultant and council membership roles, the matter is being investigated by police. Committee chairman Helen Parr made it clear she would not allow questions on this issue. Instead, a council officer read a statement, which concluded: “It is not considered appropriate or necessary to delay any application because of the Graham Brown situation.”
The applicant’s agent also spoke, listing a number of advantages that the scheme would bring.
But, after a very long debate, councillors voted against the proposal.
The applicant, Seaton Park Devon Ltd, has the opportunity to appeal the decision. Seaton Park Devon Ltd’s planning agent told Pulman’s View on Thursday afternoon that a decision on whether to appeal or not has not been taken yet.
Outline planning permission is sought to determine if the site in question is suitable for the type of proposal on the table. If the site is deemed suitable, a full planning application must be submitted and approved before work can start.
SEATON & COLYTON: Green wedge plans rejected
PICTURE: VICTORY - Objectors were successful in their campaign to protect land between Seaton and Colyford from major development

Meanwhile, the hospitality industry is coordinating its efforts on the ground:

‘Sidmouth hotels and businesses should work together’

Stephen Sumner Tuesday, April 16, 2013 
Collaboration was the order of the day as Sidmouth tourism leaders met with businesses and organisations on Monday.
Representatives of the chamber of commerce, town council and the hospitality association agreed that cross-promotion of events would benefit everyone. Guests at the Sidmouth and District Hospitality Association’s annual general meeting heard that spreading the word about fashion shows, science festivals and jubilee celebrations in and around the town will boost the whole area.
Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce chairman Steven Kendall-Torry said: “We need to work more closely together – there are so many events that nobody ever heard of.” He said the Tour of Britain would bring international interest that hotels and businesses alike should capitalise on. The businessman added that smaller events like Budleigh Salterton’s literary festival could also bring tourists to Sidmouth, and vice versa. “Tourists aren’t going to stay here all week – we should be encouraging them to go to other local towns,” he said.
Hospitality association president James Sharp agreed, saying: “We need to make the most of all these events on our doorstep.”
Town councillor John Dyson thanked the hotels and restaurants for supporting the Hopper Bus, which brings visitors to the town for free. The vehicle has gone from strength to strength and is now self-sufficient, carrying 13,500 people in 100 days last year. “I don’t think any other minibus in the country can boast that many passengers,” he said.
Town clerk Christopher Holland said he had welcomed a project to create a leaflet on the Jurassic Coast, because it meant the towns and villages worked together. “We’re normally friendly rivals, but we have a shared unique selling point,” he said. The brochure utilised Government funding to promote the World Heritage Site, and required cooperation between councils along the coast.
Victoria Hatfield, from the Heart of Devon tourism board, revealed that Sandy Park in Exeter has been long-listed to host some of the qualifying matches in the 2015 rugby world cup.


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