Go ahead for Jurassic Coast centre

An impression of what Seaton's Jurassic Coast visitor centre could look like

An impression of what Seaton's Jurassic Coast visitor centre could look like - Credit: Archant

Councillors back revised plans for a £2.5million landmark building on The Underfleet at Seaton

Updated plans for Seaton’s £2.5million Jurassic Coast visitor centre have been given the go ahead.

Members of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee approved the scheme at their meeting last week – subject to a range of conditions.

Twelve councillors voted in favour of the ambitious project - seen as a major step towards the resort’s regeneration project - with two abstentions.

The work will include demolition of the existing tourist information centre to make way for the new centre, along with land-fill operations and other infrastructure improvements. These will include extinguishing existing Underfleet car park access and forming a new highways junction and car park access.

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Some £1.8 millions of planning gain money from neighbouring Tesco will help pay for the visitor centre, which will be managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT).

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

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A spokesman for the trust said: “We’re delighted and excited to be part of this project. The Jurassic Coast 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 centre.

Seaton Town council unanimously backed the scheme which is also being championed by district councillor Ian Thomas – chairman of the Seaton Regeneration programme board.

He told The Herald this week: “The new Jurassic Coast Interpretation Centre is a vital part of building an exciting and prosperous future for Seaton residents, businesses and visitors alike.

“This will not just place Seaton firmly at the core of the Devon and Dorset Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site - but so much more, with its unique location near to the Axe Estuary Wetlands.

“I am pleased that Devon Wildlife Trust will be operating the centre, and confident that their experience will ensure it soon becomes a ‘must visit’ part of East Devon.

“A revitalised Seaton will enjoy a unique blend of enjoyable and educational attractions, for new generations of environmentally conscious tourists and families alike. The ancient Jurassic coast and the wetlands environment of the present – plus the chance to arrive on a tram or cycle. What other seaside town can match that for a year round reason to visit?”

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