Sunday, 18 October 2015

The 'regeneration' of Exmouth seafront

There are concerns that there is not the right sort of 'development' happening in East Devon:
Futures Forum: Redeveloping East Devon >>> the alternatives to a heavy-handed approach

'Regeneration projects' are the favourite tool of local authorities, but not always appropriate:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board

There are several underway in Exmouth:
Regeneration projects in Exmouth - East Devon
Exmouth Regeneration Board Meetings - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

The disquiet over the District Council's plans to 'regenerate' Exmouth's seafront has been growing:
Futures Forum: 'Save Exmouth Seafront' group launched >>> complete the survey by Saturday 5th September
More than 150 attend ‘save Exmouth seafront’ meeting - News - Exmouth Journal

Sadly, much of this 'regeneration' and 'development' does not seem to be working:
Comment: Are controversial plans for Exmouth seafront the right solution? | Exeter Express and Echo

These are the stories from the last three weeks:

End of an era as Exmouth seafront’s Carriage Café closes
By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: September 29, 2015

Pictures: End of an era as Exmouth seafront’s Carriage Café closes | Exeter Express and Echo

The cloning of Exmouth seafront begins | East Devon Watch
Exmouth Splat – spot the missing words | East Devon Watch
“Exmouth Splat”: recent EDW post has had renewed interest | East Devon Watch
Meetings re The Splash - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
EDDC confirms that meetings about Exmouth seafront are taking place in secret with no minutes | East Devon Watch

Exmouth seafront café owner shocked to find premises boarded up by council this morning
By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: October 01, 2015

Exmouth seafront café owner shocked to find premises boarded up by council this morning | Exeter Express and Echo
EDDC boards up legitimately trading cafe on Exmouth seafront without telling the owner | East Devon Watch

[See from July 2014: Exmouth seafront traders fear for their future as EDDC ignores their concerns | East Devon Watch]

1 OCT 2015
A correspondent writes:

“For years Exmouth and Seaton have had regeneration areas and Regeneration Boards. Until recently, all the Regeneration Board meetings were secret – now they are published but often with redacted parts.
But are these meetings, Boards, plans, consultations worth the bother?
Seaton’s regeneration area began life with a relatively small supermarket, housing, community and leisure facilities and a hotel, with 40% affordable housing in a total of over 400 houses. What they got was an enormous Tesco, less than 300 houses and no affordable homes.
Exmouth is now going the same way: it started as a purely seafront-themed “upgrading” but changed into expensive housing and cloned businesses.
So, we must ask ourselves: what were all these plans, meetings and consultations actually FOR? What we are ending up with on both sites is nothing like what was initially planned, or discussed or consulted on.
Regeneration Boards are top-heavy with the developers on each site, who appear to use them to push forward their plans, unchallenged either by councillors or officers – in fact, the total opposite, leaving said officers and councillors to ram through their development agendas.
Surely, this makes a total mockery of our officers, councillors and Regeneration Boards but, more importantly, the electors of East Devon, who were sold pups – coincidentally just before two major district elections.

“Regeneration plans and meetings” – are they worth the effort | East Devon Watch

[See from November 2014: Why is regeneration in East Devon always secret? | East Devon Watch]

M&S store: EDDC told to ‘push off’
12 October 2015 Sean Keywood

M&S store: EDDC told to ‘push off’ - News - Devon 24EDDC Exmouth Regeneration Board interferes in choice of bus depot site by M and S and wants it on EDDC land outside main town centre | East Devon Watch
Council wants Exmouth’s planned M&S to move | Exeter Express and Echo
M&S to consult public on Exmouth store plan on Friday - News - Exmouth Journal

12 OCT 2015

Cabinet meeting statement – 7 October 2015 by Independent Councillor Megan Armstrong, Exmouth Haldon Ward, Independent East Devon Alliance:

Thank you, Chair and Members
I wonder if any of you saw the local Westcountry TV news last night? I mean particularly the distraught young woman who, last week, saw the sudden overnight collapse of her father’s Exmouth seafront business, DJ’s Diner.
As some of you may know, the closure raid, which was undertaken by Senior Council Officers, started at 6am on 1st October, without the prior knowledge of the tenant or his family.
Without going into detail now, I believe there are some serious questions to be asked about the methods and the process used, that is prior to, during and since these actions.
I was there later that morning and therefore witnessed much of it at first hand. Apart from the legal process and implications of this situation, I am particularly concerned about the human and moral response, which should be addressed in such circumstances. Surely decency, honesty and respect should be the watchwords of this Council at all times, whether from members or employees and especially towards members of the public, whom we are elected to serve.
Only two days earlier (last Tuesday) the seafront Carriage Cafe closed down and moved to Cornwall, where no doubt it will be a great success, as it has been in Exmouth for many years. The owner, a lifelong Exmouthian, moved out because he had had enough of the constant, ongoing pressure over several years for him to move, from this Council. People are devastated by this loss of a much-valued community facility and are already saying “Exmouth’s loss is Cornwall’s gain.” And they are right to say so.
So what future for the owner of DJ’s Diner and his family? At the moment it is extremely bleak with his business closed and no income.
Do we care that these small independent businesses are being pushed out? If we don’t then I suggest that we as a council should, because it is such small businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities and we should be supporting and encouraging them to be as successful as possible for all our sakes, and not hounding them out.
I question this relentless drive to ‘regenerate’ (not only in Exmouth but also in other parts of East Devon) and at what cost to people’s livelihoods? Is this something of which we as a council, should be proud? And can we as councillors honestly defend the kind of behaviour which makes successful, small businesses feel unwelcome and unwanted?
I leave these questions for you to ponder.
Thank you.”

One thought on “Independent EDA Exmouth Councillor’s speech to Cabinet”
Mark Hawkins says:
12 Oct 2015 at 5:16pm
This sounds worse now than I realised at the time. So there were senior officers (note plural) skulking around in the darkness as well as the contractors we paid for. Who authorised this and who took part? 

Funnily enough in a report today the Civil Service is criticised as resistant to recruiting from outside, ie the private sector, and more interested in process than results. The report, written by a former HR director of Tescos, also describes the environment as a snake pit, amongst other choice terms. We won’t go there, but of course the author and those who commissioned his report would obviously be positive about EDDC. They recruit from the private sector, almost to the highest level, and they care far more about results, or “delivery”, than process, or legality.
Senior Civil Service is like a 'snake pit' that isolates and rejects outsiders, report warns | UK Politics | News | The Independent

Independent EDA Exmouth Councillor’s speech to Cabinet | East Devon Watch

[See from April 2015: Isn’t Exmouth so lucky to have Clinton Devon Estates looking after its interests … | East Devon Watch]

18 OCT 2015
I spent my youth living in Ramsgate, and saw the town councillor’s over several years close down businesses and dither about making idiotic plans they could never keep. Usually big investors pulling of projects. I have lived in Exmouth for 2 years and would not like to see the same thing happen here.
My message to Richard Cohen is simple enough. If you force a business to close, you need to have something there to replace it. Big ideas cost big money. Have the council got all the funding they need.
So we hear of plans for a supermarket in the rugby grounds apparently going back a few years ago. It should already have happened. Now we hear of Marks and Spencer planning on opening a store in the bus depot. Then we hear the council yet again dithering about where they should have a store.
I have seen it all before, and know the outcome. Mr Richard Cohen needs to get his act together. Before this fine town ends up a ghost town.
Paul Meyer

Exmouth regeneration: a resident writes | East Devon Watch

18 OCT 2015
Agenda Item 3 SW Region Planning Officers meeting, Cranbrook:
“Exmouth and Seaton Regeneration:
Presentation by Alison Hayward, Principal Regeneration Project Manager at East Devon District Council – Appendix 2
Exmouth noted signs of economic decline in early 2000’s.
Council – enabling role and significant landowner.
Masterplan adopted 2011 and delivery strategy. Public realm improvements £1m. Elizabeth Hall community venue to redevelop as Premier Inn. Indoor bowling alley, soft play, venue (all from private investment). Station area – aim to improve connectivity, discussions with stagecoach (depot). Rugby club to be relocated to enable supermarket development. Watersports facilities at Queens Drive – looking to relocate road for better linkage with sea – inc hotel / holiday accommodation. Outline planning application prior to selling some of the site to developer partner / operator. Mamhead slipway (deepwater) collapsed – engineering solutions to replace/enhance, up to £1.3m council costs. Town centre area also being examined – land ownership issues complex.
Q&A – Ex estuary mitigation strategy for Premier Inn south.”

Planning Officers SW meeting October 2013

EDDC planners confirmed holiday accommodation at Queens Drive two years ago | East Devon Watch

Beach hut charges to rise - but no sealed bids
15 October 2015 Sean Keywood

Beach hut charges to rise - but no sealed bids - News - Exmouth Journal

Rolle College: Plymouth University quizzed on plans
18 October 2015 Sean Keywood

Rolle College: Plymouth University quizzed on plans - Education - Exmouth Journal

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