Seaton regeneration: progress being made
EDDC pleased that plans are moving forward.
THE GREEN shoots of progress are starting to appear at Seaton, now that two major schemes that form part of the regeneration programme are picking up momentum.
Councillor Ray Franklin, Chairman of the Seaton Regeneration Programme Board, has welcomed news that the Tesco proposal to raise the level of the site through infill delivered by sea has been approved. And he was also pleased that permission for the Visitor Centre building has now been agreed.
This follows news that legal agreements for the Tesco site have been signed and decision notices issued.
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Speaking at the Board’s quarterly meeting last week, Councillor Franklin said: “I’m delighted that the next stage of this complex project has been reached, with permission being granted to bring the infill material in by sea.
“This is a very positive development, especially as now the majority of deliveries will take place on the shoreline, avoiding the need for thousands of lorry trips. I’m also glad to see the Visitor Centre moving another step closer to construction.
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“I’ve said so many times before that standing still is not an option. If a town is not moving forward, it will stagnate and die. Seaton now has a great chance to progress. I’m a realist and I know there will be difficulties and obstacles ahead. But the regeneration proposals have taken a giant stride in the right direction and we should be excited about that.
“I also know there are those who have misgivings about these changes. Change can be disconcerting but I hope that, once the work is underway and people see the physical signs of regeneration, support will grow”.
The Board heard from a Tesco representative that the company is making good progress with its plans to begin shipping infill material to Seaton by sea, starting in the New Year. This material will come from a licensed site on the sea-bed near the Isle of Wight.
The regeneration jigsaw in Seaton also includes another key piece – the Axe Wetlands. Once building work on the store is completed, Sheep’s Marsh – a vital plot of land in the expanding wetlands nature reserve – will be transferred to EDDC.
The Board heard that work is continuing in the background to bring this scheme forward at the earliest possible opportunity.
Other milestones looming include the demolition of the youth centre building and public toilets block, scheduled for December. Thoughts are also turning to a suitable project on which the �50,000 for public art might be spent. The post of Town Manager should soon be advertised, bringing this long-held aspiration of the town to a successful conclusion.
To balance the loss of land for youth provision, EDDC has transferred land at Elizabeth Road Playing Fields to Seaton Town Council, along with a commitment of �80,000 towards improved youth facilities (subject to a capital receipt on the land agreement). The Town Council is working with existing users of the site to explore opportunities and has also given part of the land to Devon County Council to enable the reprovisioning of nursery facilities for the town.
A price has been agreed for purchase of land near the Wetlands for a public car park and meanwhile plans are progressing for bird hides to be built on land next to the Seaton Tramway route.
The highly-acclaimed Wetlands exhibition in the former TIC building closed at the end of September.
The play area at the Underfleet is currently subject to a small masterplanning project to bring together a plan incorporating:
• Section 106 play and sports consultation
• Linkages between the Wetlands Reserve, the cycle track and the visitor centre.
EDDC is also working closely with Seaton Tramway on some exciting ideas to celebrate the increasing reputation of the wetlands as a visitor attraction*. Two of the latest developments are:
• EDDC Countryside Team and Seaton Tramway will be looking this Autumn to develop a new tram stop opposite the new Black Hole Marsh bird hide on the Axe Estuary Wetlands. This will enable tram users to disembark onto the Wetlands as a specific stop to use all the new facilities being installed and will give them the option to return via the Stop Line Way.
• The Countryside Team and Seaton Tramway are also developing themed tram trips around wildlife and bird watching for 2011 which will use the tram as a “mobile bird hide”. This will involve joint marketing and through-ticketing for tram users and will be promoted nationally.