Thursday, April 12, 2012
Further to the recent correspondence on The Strand, as a resident of Exmouth, I should like to put it on record that I think the new space should be celebrated.
You no longer have to take your life in your hands crossing from Manchester Road to what was, in effect, a large, badly grassed, walled-in roundabout or navigate innumerable extensive puddles after heavy rain!
Seeing people sitting on the benches or outside the cafes, watching the world go by or eating their sandwiches and being able to cross the whole area without worrying about traffic, is a delight, as is the decision to plant new trees.
But it does call out for something to break the large space by the bus stop and I hope we do get a Strand building as well as the bus shelter, which will complete the project.
Anyone who believes that all this could have been achieved without the budget that was spent obviously has little idea of the cost of quality construction or building things to last.
I also celebrate that the project was completed with public money, which meant that it was susceptible to public views.
Yes, you get to be consulted on private sector developments, but once the planning application has gone in, provided it meets planning guidance and law, the planning authority is under pressure to accept it, regardless of local opinion, rather than face a potential costly planning appeal with the possibility of no community gain from the developer paying community infrastructure levy.
Local authorities currently have no money to undertake major investments like The Strand. However, if things get better, it is doubtful, after their experience of the negativity that has met their endeavours in The Strand, that they will do so again in Exmouth.
We may come to regret this when the likely battles about Elizabeth Hall and the supermarket on the estuary take place, which it seems will be with private sector contractors, whose main concern may be to make profit, rather than meet what local people consider they need and want.