Below is the full text of the EDDC press release following the meeting between some members and officers of East Devon District Council and Seaton Town Council with Tesco. Some paragraphs have been assimilated to save space but this is the press release in its entirety.
Seaton Town Council's own press release and that of Tesco will follow when issues concerning the Tesco press release have been dealt with.
The EDDC press release:
A clear picture has emerged of the facilities that Seaton’s elected Members want to see delivered by Tesco on land within its ownership and as part of the town’s preferred regeneration programme.
On Seaton’s “shopping list”, as agreed by elected Members this week are:
· A medium-sized supermarket
· A visitor centre to include a cycleway hub
· Contributions to improved school and health facilities
· A seamless move of Seaton’s nursery provision
· Funding for a Town Centre Manager to assist the town in managing the change process
· A financial contribution to EDDC’s wetlands nature reserve tourist attraction
· Provision within the application site for a hotel or other overnight accommodation
Members supported the active involvement of Tesco on the new Seaton Regeneration Programme Board in its capacity as a key land-owner and prospective developer. In addition, Members identified as a priority from any capital receipt from Tesco, the provision of youth facilities and refurbishment of the Town Hall to provide first class community facilities in the town centre. Members acknowledged that provision of employment land and sports / recreational facilities was a key element of the wider regeneration programme that must be driven forward. EDDC wants to see employment and sports provision off Harepath Road as a product of the overall regeneration programme.
Seaton’s councillors still have concerns about the design of the buildings and the issue of infill to raise ground levels to an acceptable height for a coastal town. These are issues that will have to be robustly tested during the planning application process, as and when it arises.
In its role as a land-owner and community leader, East Devon District Council yesterday (Thursday) brokered a meeting Seaton’s district and town councillors and representatives of Tesco, which owns a large proportion of the land within the regeneration area off Harbour Road. The aim of the meeting was to compare the ideas of the supermarket developer and the aspirations of the town and to see how much common ground exists. If a consensus could be reached, this would enable Tesco to go away and work up an outline planning application, in the knowledge that the shape of their proposals had general approval.
At the same time, the town could feel more confident that the supermarket proposal might indeed be the catalyst that would kick-start a bright future for Seaton. The 4½ - hour meeting was chaired by Councillor Peter Halse, EDDC’s Portfolio Holder for Economy. Proceedings were led by an independent facilitator from outside the district.
Members of Seaton Town Council, including Mayor Councillor Mrs Sandra Semple, met first with the three Seaton ward members of EDDC – Councillor Jim Knight, Councillor Mrs Steph Jones and Councillor Mrs Margaret Rogers, who also represents Seaton on Devon County Council. This group explored Seaton’s past, present and its future aspirations before agreeing on a set of general improvements it wanted to see from regeneration. There was general agreement that the town enjoyed a beautiful setting and a glorious past, but had suffered in recent decades from under-investment and some indifferent development. There was also agreement that a supermarket could help Seaton’s economy by reinvigorating the retail offering, so long as the design was in keeping. One Member summed up the mood, saying: “Seaton is no longer prepared to accept second best”.
Tesco’s representatives were then given an opportunity to update Members on the company’s latest ideas, based on discussions that have already taken place. From this presentation, which included a summary of a recent telephone survey taken in the town, Members could judge whether the Tesco proposals were on the right lines. Their presentation complete, the Tesco party left the room and there followed a session where Members could discuss their impressions of the Tesco proposals and agree a set of priorities that the Tesco development, should it happen, must deliver.
Finally, the Tesco group were asked back into the room to hear these priorities. The supermarket representatives were invited to indicate whether these priorities could in principle be delivered. They also had several opportunities to ask their own questions. The meeting ended with the Tesco party being told that the proposals they had outlined thus far gave Members grounds to continue working with the developer, dependent on Tesco being able and willing to deliver the list of priorities Members had put forward.
Direction of travel
After the meeting, EDDC’s Portfolio Holder Economy, Councillor Peter Halse, said: “We all welcome the outcome of these cordial discussions and we thank Tesco for attending. I want everyone to be clear that these discussions do not in any way mean that Tesco have been chosen as the preferred regeneration partner, nor that they are guaranteed planning permission. Both those issues are to be dealt with by this Council further down the line. Planning in particular is a completely separate issue.
“EDDC brought the interested parties together to seek a consensus on the direction of travel. This we have achieved. We acknowledge that Tesco, as a significant land-owner in Seaton, has a right to a civilised debate. They can now bring forward more detailed plans for public consultation. “While this outcome does not shut the door on the aspirations of other commercial interests, I am delighted that Seaton’s elected members have given a clear indication of the priorities they want the overall regeneration scheme to achieve.
“EDDC is also a land-owner in Seaton and we wish to play our part in delivering a comprehensive regeneration scheme that provides employment and recreation opportunities. We are a step closer, but it still remains to be seen just exactly how this can be made to happen”.
For information, please contact:
Nick Stephen, Communications Officer, on 01395 517559
East Devon District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 8HL