Monday, April 23, 2012
The Elizabeth Hall site will be up for sale as early as next month, district bosses have said.
The site will be placed on the open market through commercial agents Jones Lang LaSalle, with possible future uses including a hotel, residential units, commercial use, or a site for leisure and entertainment activities.
The news comes amid growing public concern about the plans, with more than 2,000 people signing a petition to save the hall. But East Devon District Council insists that the sale – part of the Exmouth Masterplan – comes after ‘extensive consultation’ with residents.
EDDC says the hall is no longer fit for purpose and the site can help bring new investment, jobs and prosperity to Exmouth.
District councillor and Exmouth champion Tim Wood said: “The Elizabeth Hall has been a good servant to the town, but now looks tired and out of place on such an important seafront location.
“It is right to respect and look after your past when it matters, but not to be a slave to it either. Exmouth needs to compete with other visitor locations if it wants to revive its fortunes.
“We believe the Elizabeth Hall site should play a far larger role in creating a dynamic Exmouth economy for the highly competitive years ahead.
“It is clearly held in affection by some in the town, yet there are others who feel equally strongly it is time to move on.”
EDDC says it will work to help the hall’s users find new facilities, and that attracting investment and a strong design will be priorities for the hall’s replacement.
Despite EDDC’s decision to press ahead with the sale, hall users and residents are continuing their campaign against it, saying there is a real need to keep the hall - and that it could still be restored to its former glory.
For the past few weeks, a petition has been available at the Sunday charity market held outside the hall. So far, more than 2,000 people have signed it – more than twice the number of people who signed a petition against the proposed Strand pavilion, which was then scrapped because of public pressure.
The petition has also gone into Tasti Mana, Sitting Pretty and Franklins in the town centre.
Petition organiser Jilly Green said: “We were prompted to do the petition by residents who were angry that the council could just close the Elizabeth Hall down by selling it to a developer, and that no-one was doing anything about it.
“We aim to save the Elizabeth Hall for the community, but we need the help of everyone who wants to keep it.”
A community-led bid to buy the hall could be one possible outcome, with EDDC saying that such a bid would be considered if it offered a competitive market value.