• EDDC sells off Exmouth Victorian hall to national chain

    4th October 2012 | News | Claire
  • Some people claim that Exmouth is old fashioned and tired and needs ‘regeneration’.

    My view is that its 1950s feel is kitsch and part of its charm. 

    But now councillors on the all-conservative East Devon District cabinet have lobbed an extra large breezeblock into that charm.

    They have selected national chain hotel, Premier Inn as a preferred bidder, to build a cafe and four storey hotel, demolishing a Victorian hall that is cherished by Exmouth residents. 

    You only have to read the letters pages of the Exmouth Journal to get a feel for public opinion, which has been passionate about saving the hall (I read the Exmouth Journal each week as I read all local press).

    In case you hadn’t noticed the first time.  I said FOUR STOREY hotel.  And yes on the seafront.

    During Local Plan panel meetings we talked for hours about local distinctiveness.  We said (and everyone agreed with this) that local distinctiveness was vital.  That each and every community in East Devon had its own feel, its own look and its own character.  This, we emphasised MUST be protected.

    How the heck is local distinctiveness being preserved with a whopping chain hotel being plonked on the seafront?  Four storeys high!

    And the really sad thing is that the residents also put in a bid for Elizabeth Hall.  Their bid, which would have seen the hall become a community arts and visitor centre, presumably with a great deal of economic benefit for the town, was disregarded in favour of a clone hotel, more suited to a business park off the M4.

    Presumably, they have simply sold it off to the highest bidder.

    The steamroller continues to flatten everything in its path …

    BBC story is below: …………………

    A seafront Victorian building is set to become a hotel after the Premier Inn group was named as preferred bidder.

    In May, East Devon District Council’s decision to sell Elizabeth Hall in Exmouth prompted a protest march and a 12,000-signature petition.

    Two other bids, including one from the Friends of Elizabeth Hall, were considered but rejected by the council.

    “We worked our socks off to save it for the community, so we’re devastated,” Friends spokeswoman Jilly Green said.

    If the Friends bid had been successful, Elizabeth Hall would have become a community arts and visitor centre.

    Mrs Green said it was unlikely the Friends would give up their fight.

    “We’re so devastated we can’t think straight. It’s hard to know quite how to proceed, but we’re meeting later to discuss the way forward.”

    ‘Vital boost’
    The council said Premier Inn, part of the Whitbread group, scored highest against a range of set criteria, which included economic impact, design and regeneration potential.

    “Having studied all the proposals carefully and listened to what each of the bidders had to say, we are convinced that Premier Inn provides the best deal for Exmouth in terms of taking on this important site,” said Councillor Andrew Moulding, chairman of Exmouth’s regeneration board.

    Insisting that the council had not simply gone for the “highest price”, Mr Moulding said he believed Premier Inn offered the “best modern interests of the whole town”.

    The Premier Inn’s proposal is for a three-storey building, rising to four storeys in one section with 60 rooms.

    A ground-floor licensed cafe-restaurant that will be open to non-residents is also planned.

    The council said it would now work with Premier Inn to refine its proposal before a detailed planning application is submitted – probably about February next year.