A topping out ceremony has been held.
Joined by local school children from Brixington Primary Academy, councillors, staff from East Devon District Council, including Deputy Chief Executive Richard Cohen and Exmouth Mayor, Steve Gazzard, the ceremony marked a key milestone in the construction of the centre.
The children left their own legacies by signing a brick with their names and laying it on site, so that they too will be part of this sustainable project.
Sideshore, the new not-for-profit seafront development on Exmouth seafront is expected to be completed by Summer 2020.
Once completed, a brand-new watersports centre and multi-use facility which celebrates the Exmouth seafront and the surrounding area will be unveiled, establishing a go-to destination for visitors and locals alike.
And Grenadier project developer, Aiden Johnson-Hugill, said that they hoped the new centre will make Exmouth the go-to kitesurfing destination on the UK.
He said: “This milestone marks the transformation of the seafront as a go-to destination for locals and visitors to Exmouth. It also demonstrates the legacy we are creating for the community.
“It will be very exciting for the area once it opens and we are on target to open in June 2020.”
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service ahead of the topping out ceremony, Mr Johnson-Hugill said that there was a hope that Exmouth could become an English equivalent of Torrevieja in Spain, that draws in crowds from across Europe, and that while Cowes is synonymous with sailing, Exmouth could be the kitesurfing equivalent.
He said: “Torrevieja in Spain is somewhere people come from all across Europe to go there. I am not saying that Exmouth will be the next Torrevieja, but something like that could happen and things like this often end up being bigger than the sum of their parts.
“Everything these days needs to have a USP. Exmouth has the traditional family holidays over the summer needs something for people all year round, and this will be a real benefit to the project. The summer is the worst time of the year for windsurfing as it is less windy, so this will add to the bubble around the holiday season and is something unique that can be done whatever the season.
“We have to get more to stay longer and spend more in the region and this is a project that does that. People will come to Exmouth and hopefully will spend money here rather than somewhere else, so if they can spend it locally, it will be a good thing.
“The whole thing is really exciting and one day we could even be hosting competitions or festivals. Cowes has its sailing so Exmouth could have kitesurfing.”
The centre will be run by Edge Watersports, a team with Olympic prospects and multiple world champion titles between them. The family run business has been instrumental in making Exmouth the go-to kitesurfing destination on the UK. The aim is to give everyone from all walks of life and backgrounds the opportunity to have a go at water sports.
As well as the watersports centre, Sideshore will also be home to dining facilities run by local and renowned award-winning celebrity chef, Michael Caines.
His plans for Sideshore will be very different to the fine dining experience available at nearby Lympstone Manor and include a range of offers to suit all tastes, from a casual dining restaurant complete with an upstairs terrace, to a dog-friendly cafe offering a lighter menu and serving homemade ice-creams, local coffee and healthy takeaway snacks, and a beach bar.
There will also be six smaller units that Grenadier are currently in the process of looking for tenants for, and Mr Johnson-Hugill said that they are confident and expect all six to be let and to open next sumer.
The watersports centre is the second of three phases of development for the Queen’s Drive area of Exmouth.
Phase one – the relocation of the Queen’s Drive road – has been complete, while initial plans for phase 3, the Queen’s Drive space, were revealed last week.
A public exhibition was held by East Devon District Council on Wednesday and Thursday at Ocean in Exmouth, which showed plans for a hotel, a play and events space on and a two storey cafe with a new coast watch tower above it.
HemingwayDesign’s proposals, based on the Exmouth masterplan, the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan, and the results of surveys carried out last summer, have described it as a mixed-use leisure space.
A possible two-storey cafe with a new coast watch tower above it could be built along the beach.
The idea is for there to be an open area on the ground floor that people can pop into for food and drink with sandy feet and the likes and a more formal eating area on the first floor. The watch tower will then sit above that.
The proposals include building three or four storey middle of the market hotel, with around 70 to 80 bedrooms, and car parking for all guests around the back.
Next to hotel would be Exmouth Fun Park, a play and events space, possibly including crazy golf. The plans also include a large sandpit, splash play area, and seating areas.
Wayne Hemingway said: “It was great to come back to Exmouth and talk about what an amazing place the seafront is and how it can be enhanced. I’ve seen how successful the meanwhile space attractions have been and the watersports centre development is well underway.
“Add to this a fresh approach to the waterfront café and a new relevant and complementary accommodation offer, then the Queen’s Drive area and Exmouth will be able to position itself as a seaside town with wonderful natural wellbeing and outdoor leisure opportunities.”
The next stage will be a final report from Hemingway Design and East Devon will then decide what it wants to do next to take the Queen’s Drive site forward with the benefit of vision and an understanding what can now be achieved at Queen’s Drive. In the meantime, the council is planning another season of popular temporary uses for Queen’s Drive Space, while long terms plans get underway.
Richard Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive, East Devon District Council added: “It’s great to see so many people come and support this project. The centre has been much anticipated and seeing the steelworks in place give you a real sense of scale. Grenadier have kept the pace of the project and we look forward to celebrating the centre opening in as little as eight months.”