Who will the next tenants be? Honiton’s former tourism hub to go BACK on the market

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:15 19 October 2018

The Tourist Information Centre, Honiton. Picture: Alex Walton

The Tourist Information Centre, Honiton. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

It used to have up to 20,000 people come through its door each year.

Now, Honiton’s former tourist centre (TIC) will be placed back on the market for the second time in two years after the charity occupying it opted to bring its operations back under one roof.

The news comes as Honiton Town Council continues to work on where a new TIC will be set up - with one of two suggested options already being officially explored by the authority.

The unit, in Lace Walk car park, has been used by bloodbikes charity Devon Freewheelers since it took up the lease in 2017.

Dan Lavery, the charity’s founder, said the hub is still visited by tourists daily, meaning the charity’s staff has to provide information and directions.

Now, Mr Lavery has decided to vacate the unit - and the charity’s existing HQ in Durham Way - and move to a new base at Heathpark Industrial Estate.

He said: “When we bid on the East Devon District Council property, there was a lot of interest and I am aware of several people who had submitted an interest in the property when we were fighting for it.

“It’s a little gold mine for a small business, maybe a cafe or a community engagement facility.

“One of our volunteers suggested a classic cream tea venue, people parking their cars, shopping in the town then finishing off with a proper cream tea before they go. I reckon that is a great idea. For us however, oun team has been split between two locations and we all want to be back under one roof.”

The hub is set to close early next year. Mr Lavery added: “Anyone who’s interested can get in touch. I know it won’t take long for someone else to jump in here, we’ve done all that had to be done.

“It is clean, dry and warm and has guaranteed footfall in the town’s biggest car park.”

The revelation has come at a key time for the future of tourism in Honiton. The town council is currently exploring the possibility of setting up a new TIC at Allhallows Museum.

However, at a recent town meeting, several traders and retailers threw their weight behind setting up a new hub in an empty kiosk in Lace Walk.

The suggestion was put forward by Councillor Duncan Sheridan-Shaw, Honiton’s deputy mayor, but was not supported at a town management committee meeting held earlier this year.

Last month, Colin Wright, the chairman of Honiton’s former tourist information centre, expressed his regret that Honiton Town Council ceased funding the hub in Lace Walk car park - which he said would have solved the current headache members are facing with setting up a new TIC.

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