Temporary Exmouth seafront attractions have already cost us £300,000

Owl says: imagine if other coastal towns in East Devon had this much spent on them …

“Under questioning from [Independent councillor Megan Armstrong at last week’s East Devon District Council meeting, Councillor Philip Skinner revealed that £285,305, was spent by the council for the first year of the new attractions in Queen’s Drive, Exmouth.

Cllr Skinner said that the costs included £155,000 on the new dinosaur-themed play park, as well as other costs on the beach bar seating area, the events stage and making the whole site safe.

He also said the council spent £22,850 putting on events such as free live screenings from the Royal Opera House.

Under questioning from councillor Megan Armstrong at last week’s East Devon District Council meeting, Councillor Philip Skinner revealed that £285,305, was spent by the council for the first year of the new attractions in Queen’s Drive, Exmouth.

Cllr Skinner said that the costs included £155,000 on the new dinosaur-themed play park, as well as other costs on the beach bar seating area, the events stage and making the whole site safe.

He also said the council spent £22,850 putting on events such as free live screenings from the Royal Opera House.

In response, Councillor Skinner said he didn’t expect to be facing criticism for investing money in Exmouth.

He said: “We are trying to get more people into the town, and to get them to spend more money there.

“It shouldn’t be a criticism that we are investing more in Exmouth and the town councillors should be chuffed to think we are investing in the town.

“We tried new things and people did like them.

“Some events didn’t go well, but others did.

“We made all of our revenue costs back and made a profit, and I expect to do so in future.

“We are continuing to invest in Exmouth’s seafront and have also been invited to a Stage 2 bid for Coastal Communities Fund that will further benefit the seafront.

“For 2019, our budget is £75,000, which includes staffing, event cost, equipment hire, maintenance, security and utility costs.

“We expect to secure income of between £30,000 and £40,000 this year, depending on sponsorship secured, and a further £12,000 for the big wheel.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/seafront-attractions-cost-1-5917372

Largest store in Axminster town centre to close

“Axminster’s biggest town centre shop is to close – with the loss of 19 jobs.

Trinity House department store is expected to cease trading towards the end of the year – probably in September.

Its owners – Goulds of Dorchester – say it is the victim of the nation’s changing shopping habits which have seen many people switch to on-line buying.

In statement they told The Herald: “As a result of an ongoing review the directors of Goulds (Dorchester) Ltd have announced their decision to cease trading at Trinity House.

“It is expected that the store will close at the end of September 2019, but the actual closing date is yet to be confirmed.

“The store was acquired on leasehold terms in November 2015 along with the premises known as TH2, which housed linens and housewares, until its replacement in 2017 by Costa Coffee.

“Despite having made a considerable investment in the business in an effort to make the Axminster store viable, current trading conditions, coupled with the continuing economic pressures on the department store sector, dictate that the business can no longer sustain an unprofitable branch store in Axminster.

“The company realise that this closure will be a major blow to the town. But even with sympathetic support from the local landlords it has been impossible to stem losses. In common with so many other retailers we are suffering the effects of on-line competition and a change in shopping habits.

“We are deeply sorry at having to take this action not least because our colleagues have done their utmost to help make the store successful and our regular customers will feel the disappointment of losing the only department store in town.”

Axminster county and district councillor Ian Hall said the closure would be a blow to the local economy.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/trinity-house-is-a-victim-of-changing-shopping-habits-say-its-owners-1-5916167

“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.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/watersports-centre-contract-not-signed-1-5896955

K’ching! 3 bids in for Sidmouth seafron Drill Hall

“East Devon District Council has received three ‘interesting and diverse’ bids for the site following the consultation period, which ended on Friday, February 4.

A core group made up of Sidmouth and East Devon town and district councillors are now considering the bids, working with property agent JLL which has managed the marketing.

A council spokesman said at the moment the details of the bids must remain confidential and recommendations will be made for East Devon District Council’s cabinet for approval at a later date. …”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/final-bids-to-be-considered-to-transform-sidmouth-drill-hall-1-5891620

Axminster Masterplan “consultation ” this Friday 8 February

The Crown Estate is holding a public consultation event from

2pm to 8pm

on

Friday (February 8)

at Millwey Community Centre,

to seek residents’ input on its proposals for land east of Axminster.

The Crown Estate’s site forms part of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Masterplan for the area, approved last week by councillors, for up to 850 homes, employment space and community uses as well as green space and a relief road.

The Crown Estate’s application would look to provide 441 homes – 25 per cent of which would be affordable – the central section of the proposed relief road, as well as space for new offices, shops and community facilities.

The event is an opportunity for local people to hear more about the plans and share their thoughts, ahead of a planning application being submitted to EDDC later this year.

Steve Melligan, strategic land portfolio manager for The Crown Estate, said: “Our proposals will help deliver a significant part of the new relief road for Axminster, as well as new homes and employment space for the area. We’re excited to present our plans to the community and look forward to hearing their views.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/plans-unveiled-at-millwey-community-centre-1-5879374

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.”

http://www.room151.co.uk/funding/brexit-fears-hit-council-property-investments-as-contingency-funds-confirmed/