“Work is set to begin on phase one of the Exmouth seafront regeneration scheme this month after East Devon District Council (EDDC) cabinet gave its approval despite not having ‘legal commitment’ from Grenadier Estates for ‘phase two’.
The developer, which is planning to begin construction on a new watersports centre in spring 2019, says it is ‘committed and on schedule’.
Councillors at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday (October 31) were told there were ‘verbal assurances’ from Grenadier but that waiting any longer for a written commitment would result in works on the road, which had originally been expected to begin in September, being put back until next summer. Members were told the council had sought independent commercial advice in case Grenadier decided to pull out.
Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Megan Armstrong warned that verbal assurances are not good enough, adding: “The council is incurring costs without Grenadier being legally committed and if the council is willing to spend all this money on possibly a road to nowhere then so be it but I actually despair of this council making this decision.”
However, councillor Jill Elson said: “We have already incurred costs of £63,000 and if we delay any more we will be adding another £63,000 and we need a better car park.
“I believe we should be saying to Grenadier we are pushing to get on and we want this done in the winter and don’t want it done in the summer.
“I think it would be horrendous in the summer, not only for the tourist industry but there will be a health and safety issue for members of the public.”
Councillor Ian Thomas, cabinet committee chairman and leader of EDDC, said: “It’s incredibly important that we keep the Exmouth regeneration programme moving than allowing it to stagnate.
“It’s important that building works aren’t scheduled in the middle of the summer season and the disruption it will cause on the seafront in Exmouth.”