This may not be for Sidmouth, but would Exmouth be up for it?

Something to distract from elections – Owl

Monster zip wire plan to rejuvenate Ilfracombe’s fortunes

Ambitious plans for a zip line could bring thousands of visitors to Ilfracombe.

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com

Ilfracombe Town Council has agreed to apply for a zip line that would cross from Hillsborough down to the harbour.

The idea was put forward by Councillor Dan Turton at a meeting on Monday, April 12, and given backing by councillors to proceed at their meeting on Tuesday, May 4.

Cllr Turton said: “We’re looking to put a report forward so we can put something down on paper and get a planning application in. It’s to find if it’s for certain or a pipe dream rather than keep talking about it.

“I would favour putting it on the top of Hillsborough down to the pier. I know Hillsborough is an AONB which could be a sticky point, but I have never been told it would be a 100 per cent no and that it can’t be done. I have only been told it would be difficult.

“I have spoken to AONB, who told me it would go down to community consultation; it wasn’t a no.”

He said that the council would apply the more ambitious scheme but that as a plan B, they would also look at the possibility of a zip line from Capstone Hill.

He added: “It ticks every single box that we’ve been talking about for the last six years.

“It brings money to the town, it gives us an attraction, and it markets the town.

“Ilfracombe is going to be rammed this year and next, so we need to take an opportunity and give people visiting here an attraction tying in with the water sports centre and putting ourselves on the map as a destination where you can do this type of thing.”

He said any surplus income generated could be put back into the community.

He added: “The concept that any money raised on this put back in the community to fund things like toilets is a unique selling point, and we could have hundreds of toilets all dotted around Ilfracombe thanks to this attraction.

“I have had lots of businesses contact me telling me they want to do this and franchise it out. It proves it is a serious business proposition, but I would prefer if the council or One Ilfracombe ran it so we could keep any surplus from the attraction.

“If we are going to do it, do it properly and do it big and go for the biggest venue.

“There’s a derelict shelter on Hillsborough which is covered in beer bottles, graffiti and cannabis, and one of the things was to do something to that shelter.”

Councillor Paul Crabb fully supported the proposal.

He said: “I think it’s a marvellous idea,” he said.

“We have discussed it, and it’s been around the block a couple of times. I think it has come to a point where it needs testing.

“I know that when it comes to Historic England if you suggest as much as dropping a fag packet up at Hillsborough, they’ll go nuts. To suggest putting a wire on it, I think they will go double nuts.”

Despite a feeling it may not get approved, Cllr Crabb said they would gain nothing by not acting.

“To put a planning application in as a parish council would cost a few hundred quid,” he said. “It’s not a lot.

“If the first one gets turned down, you get a chance to put in an amended plan.

“For the sake of that money, where we can be in a position where we get a definite no and the reasons, at least Dan will be happy he’s tried.

“Most importantly, if you look at plan B, which is more than possible but less desirable, it may not be our land, but we can submit an application.

“I’ve been talking to the council surveyor about this, who are quite happy to look at proposals that come forward for areas at the back of the swimming baths and the top of Capstone.

“It would be huge turnover on this thing wherever you put it, so there is a deal to be done.”

However, Councillor Netti Pearson said: “Hillsborough is a scheduled ancient monument. You cannot build on it. It’s not the AONB that is the issue; it’s a scheduled ancient monument.

“The other hindrance would be that we have a working harbour.

“With Hillsborough and the harbour, it’s never going to happen in a million years.”

Councillor Rod Donovan added: “There’s no way you’d get it off Hillsborough. It’s an ancient monument, and you imagine if it’s really popular, the number of people who would be trampling over the ancient monument to get to the starting point.

“It’s a non-starter. It’s an absolute waste of time putting an application in for Hillsborough. Let’s put an application in for Capstone down to the back of the Landmark.”

Speaking again at the meeting on May 4, Cllr Turton added: “This proposal would be for Hillsborough as we are never going to find out if that’s possible unless we put a planning application in.

“Plan B would be Capstone, but we need to find out if Hillsborough is possible as it’s a lot more impressive, bigger, and I think it marketing it, it would go global.

“Ilfracombe has been called on a Which? report the worst seaside town in the country for attractions and visits to the seaside, so this would undoubtedly give them a kick in the teeth, and we certainly wouldn’t be bottom of the list then.

“I think we would be viral all around the world if we were to back it.”