“Final contract yet to be signed for Exmouth watersports centre project”

“East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Grenadier Estates agreed a development deal in August 2017 and planning permission for the facility was granted in June last year, but the supplementary agreement relating to beach access has yet to be signed.

Peter Quincey, director of Grenadier, has said the company is excited to commence with this project and is keen to get on site as soon as possible, but the details of a supplementary agreement is still to be finalised.

The council’s deputy chief executive told councillors at a cabinet meeting that Grenadier is still being chased.

At the meeting on Tuesday, February 12, Exmouth councillor Steve Gazzard asked for answers on the Queen’s Drive project.

He said: “I am trying to be helpful, but I want some answers.

“Can we have an update on whether Grenadier signed finally signed the contract, whether Michael Caines is definitely opening a restaurant or is just interested in opening a restaurant, and whether, subject to planning permission being granted, there is money allocated in a budget for repairs to the play park on the seafront?”

Richard Cohen said: “I cannot say specifically what the details between Grenadier and Michael Caines are, but the fact they have announced he will be opening a restaurant suggests they have a high degree of confidence in it.

“We will have to budget for any maintenance at the play park that needs to be carried out and we have already done some work on wear and tear repairs.”

After the meeting, Mr Quincey said: “We are delighted to have Edge Watersports and Michael Caines supporting the new watersports centre on Exmouth seafront. Work is expected to begin on site in Summer 2019 and conclude Summer 2020.”

In November, the cabinet approved the £1.2m work on realigning the road and the car park as part of ‘phase one’ of the Exmouth seafront regeneration scheme, The second phase will be the development of the watersports centre and ‘phase three’ is a mix of leisure facilities on the former Exmouth Fun Park site and the current Harbour View plot.”


Councils investing in commercial property and regeneration feel the chill

Owl wonders how EDDC is getting on with Grenadier in Exmouth …..

“Uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on the UK property market has hit two major council investment projects.

Essex County Council this week formally removed £6m from the budget for its £50m property investment fund after pausing further purchases due to worries over Brexit.

Meanwhile, Brighton & Hove City Council has been forced to delay the signing of a development agreement on a regeneration scheme in which it is planning to invest £8m.

The problems emerged in a week that communities secretary James Brokenshire announced allocations for councils under a new £56m fund to help them prepare for Brexit.

In a report to councillors, Margaret Lee, executive director for corporate and customer services, recommended the £6m reduction in Essex’s property investment fund, saying: “Due to the uncertainties caused by Brexit and the potential impact on the property market, the scheme has been paused with no further purchases planned.”

The pause in investment was originally agreed by Essex councillors in November, after advice from its adviser Hymans Robertson not to expand its commercial property programme “due to the current market conditions including the unknown impact of Brexit”.

However, the council has now decided to remove £6m from the investment programme budget as part of a package of measures that will help the authority reach a forecast underspend of £29.6m in its 2018/19 capital spending programme.

Before the programme was halted, £44m of the fund had been spent on property, which the council says is already yielding £1m for council services.

Essex is set to review whether to restart commercial property investment through the fund during the summer.

Meanwhile, in Brighton, councillors have been forced to delay a deadline they set for housebuilder Crest Nicholson to sign the development agreement on the King Alfred leisure centre and housing regeneration scheme.

Originally, councillors had proposed to walk away from discussions with the developer unless it signed the deal by 31 January.

However, it extended the deadline until 30 March – the day after the UK’s date for leaving the European Union (EU), following a last minute plea from Crest.

In a letter to the council, it cited “challenging economic uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the impact this could yet have on the construction industry workforce and wider confidence and stability of the property market”.

It added that “as soon as we have greater certainty over the nature and form of the Brexit arrangement which we all hope and expect will be achieved shortly, and assuming this does give reasonable certainty over the future trading relations with Europe, then we will enter into the development agreement and commit the team and resources required to promote the scheme, develop the design and seek planning in accordance with the conditions and programme”.

In 2016, the council committed £8m to the project, which comprises a sports centre, swimming pool, underground parking and 565 homes in blocks of up to 18 storeys high.”


Exmouth – road to nowhere?

“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.”


EDDC seems to prefer income loss to seafront attractions

Owl has spotted a disclosure by EDDC in relation to a FOI on the loss of income and business rates on closed Exmouth seafront businesses:


EDDC effectively admit that council rental income from those properties on Queens Drive, which they closed a while back, mean a loss at a rate of over £18,300 pa. On top of the rent, they will have lost an as yet unspecified amount of council business rates and beach hut hire income. Oh, and the area now looks derelict.

Though there were claims that the Fun Park site was needed in connection with works on phases 1 and 2, there are plans in existence (see on Save Exmouth Seafront Facebook page) which show no such need for access as yet to the Fun Park.

It seems clear that EDDC have done little or nothing about arrangements for ‘temporary attractions’ on the Fun park site next year – at least as far as the public can determine.

So, we know that already part of the seafront is looking run down and desolate, and is losing money into the bargain. Further, the case for getting rid of the Fun Park seems much more to do with EDDC taking offence at a long established family business having the sheer gall to take EDDC on in pursuit of that families legitimate rights, than allowing them to continue to provide a much-loved service to the community – including thousands of tourists.

No, rather EDDC take a chance that something “might” come up by way of temporary attractions if only it hopes hard enough.

And surely EDDC is breaking its own (well-honed) rules on confidentiality when it voluntarily gives information that one owner allegedly had an outstanding unpaid bill – again.

EDDC Exmouth Visitor Survey- a flaw

The survey says that by far the largest proportion of visitors (31 per cent) were aged 65+ years:

15% – 15 years or under
6% – 16‐24 years
8% – 25‐34 years
10% – 35‐44 years
14% – 45‐54 years and
15% – 55‐64 years
31% – 65+

16-64 year old are broken down into decades
Under 15’s span 15 years
Over 65’s span around 35 years

So obviously over 65’s are the largest group as they cover the largest number of years.

But, if you wished, you could say the largest group was 35-64 year olds (39%) as they also span 3 decades and are a higher percentage than the over 65’s!

Plus, it should be fairly obvious that people 65 – 74 are just about as fit and active as the 55-64 year olds. Lumping them in with centenarians is just a tad ageist!

AND it skews figures by comparing unequal groupings.


Grenadier and the Exmouth Creative Group – is there a connection?

Grenadier have launched new website:


Interesting that the Watersports Centre no longer listed as one of their community projects. It has been moved to a Commercial project.

Was it therefore Grenadier and its hangers-on that was involved with the “Exmouth Creative Group” that Councillor Skinner seems to have forgotten he may have spoken to?

It says of “community projects”:

We assess any impacts we believe we make as a business on the environment and community and pro-actively become involved with projects that do not necessarily provide an immediate financial benefit to the company, but instead promote positive social and environmental change.”


which would fit the brief of the secretive “Exmouth Creative Group” perfectly:


Now, Owl is NOT saying that there is a connection – Owl is not even sure that such a group ever existed, only that, if it did indeed exist, there might be such a connection – indeed it would be surprising if there were not as such a group would surely want to influence all the “movers and shakers” in Exmouth. And the group’s members were said to include ” developers”.

It says of its commercial developments:

Our work includes building new commercial developments from the ground up, converting existing buildings or sites and their use, and investing in new property that has the scope for additional development or income.

Big difference isn’t it.

Owl will be happy to publish a response from Grenadier and/or EDDC and/or Councillor Skinner on this topic:


“No ‘independent consultation’ to be held on Exmouth seafront plans”


SPIN! SPIN! SPIN! Councillor Skinner must be dizzy!

Perhaps the “group of like-minded individuals” who are not the Exmouth Creative Group ( including any creative developers) would like to identify itself ….!

There will not be an ‘independent consultation’ on redeveloping Exmouth seafront, the man leading the project has said.

Councillor Philip Skinner made the comments at the most recent full East Devon District Council (EDDC) meeting, when asked by Councillor Megan Armstrong about the result of a town poll held last April.

The poll produced a 94.9 per cent vote for Exmouth Town Council writing to EDDC, which it subsequently did, asking that before any further planning applications were approved for Queen’s Drive, additional independent consultation should take place.

Cllr Armstrong said: “It seems as if you are going to ignore the poll and continue regardless. How are you going to explain to all the residents who voted that their views have been totally ignored?”

Responding, Cllr Skinner said: “What we are going to do is, the phase two [developer] is going to put their application in, there will be a consultation process for that, there will then be another consultation process which will take place through the planning process. Phase three is going to be absolutely a full consultation with the public, that’s what’s going to take place, that is quite clear.

“To answer the question about an independent consultation – no, that’s not going to take place. I’m sorry about that, but that’s the reality.”

Cllr Skinner has also been criticised by campaign group Save Exmouth Seafront, which said he had talked to an unknown Exmouth Creative Group in lieu of other consultation, though EDDC denied Cllr Skinner had spoken to a group of that name.

SES spokesperson Louise MacAllister said: “There are many established community groups in Exmouth with an interest in the seafront who have not been asked for their opinion. This is concerning as the public made themselves very clear through the poll that they want to be consulted, and yet the public are now being ignored in favour of this unknown group.”

An EDDC spokesperson said: “Cllr Skinner has met several groups and individuals about rejuvenating the town, including the seafront.

He recently met a group of like-minded individuals who have some great ideas for the town and they were enthused by what the council is doing. We are unaware of a specifically named group called Exmouth Creative Group.”