Resort’s regeneration set to step up a gear with major funding now available

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Ambitious plans to regenerate Seaton are stepping up a gear, with the release of major funding.

Tesco has paid the final instalment of its £2million contribution to East Devon District Council as part of the deal for its Harbour Road supermarket site.

The council plans to re-invest around £1.8million in a new Jurassic Coast Discovery Centre, which will be managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT).

The trust will also be overseeing a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £500,000 to help close the gap on the final sum needed to complete the project.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We’re delighted and excited to be part of this project. The Jurassic Coast Discovery Centre will allow us to bring our work for wildlife to new and wider audiences.

“The centre’s position in Seaton, next to the Axe Valley Wetlands, within walking distance of the Undercliff and close to the rich marine environments of Lyme Bay, really couldn’t be better. We must now hope we can secure funding.”

If the bid for lotto cash fails, a contingency plan for a phased approach will be implemented, with the possibility of fund-raising running in parallel with building work. The shape of the whole visitor experience also looks set to improve, with an exciting, integrated landscape surrounding the proposed discovery centre at the Underfleet, with plans well advanced for the design of the building and how visitors will arrive at and leave the site.

Outline planning permission for the building has already been granted and architects are working on tweaking the designs to comply with planning conditions.

Seaton town clerk Tony Le Riche said: “The project has the full support of the town council and members are pleased to be working with EDDC and the regeneration board on the development of the centre and the Underfleet area as a whole. These exciting proposals were presented to a packed town meeting in October when they were received with great enthusiasm. This and the other projects that are moving forward will all contribute to a positive future for Seaton as a vibrant seaside town.”

Councillor Graham Godbeer, chairman of Seaton Regeneration Programme Board, said: “I’m looking forward to some very tangible developments in Seaton’s regeneration programme. I am confident that the programme will go from strength to strength in 2013.”

Donald Campbell, of Seaton Discovery Centre Trust, said: “People in Seaton and the wider area will be delighted that after 12 years of community effort this facility is going ahead.

Ian Dyer, Tesco’s Seaton store manager, said: “All of us – my staff and my customers – are really looking forward to seeing the plans come to life. We are privileged to be able to live and work in such a beautiful part of the country and are proud to have contributed to a project that is certain to entice many more visitors to Seaton.”

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