Could Seaton town centre be made car-friendly?

    Cars could be allowed in the town centre on a trial basis

    THE pedestrianised areas of Seaton town centre could be opened up to cars on a trial basis.

    No decision has been made but a majority of town centre shopkeepers favour the proposed trial, according to a town council poll.

    The proposed trial period is part of a town council initiative to bring more life to the town centre.

    Councillor Heather Sanham stressed that any decision to open up pedestrianised areas comes under the remit of Devon County Council, with the poll being taken to gauge support only.

    Councillor Sanham gave a verbal report at the October meeting of the town council and said: “There are some shops we haven’t got hold of but so far 16 are in favour, six against and one is neutral.”

    She also reported that some people had expressed concerns about careless parking and had asked for adequate enforcement should the move go ahead.

    Town clerk Amy Tregellas reported that some residents living above shops were against the move.

    Councillor Martin Shaw, who is also a county councillor, said: “People being able to drive down the streets doesn’t necessarily mean they will come into the shops.”

    Councillor Sanham replied: “It (the idea) came from shopkeepers.”

    She proposed that the council should find out straight away from Devon County Council if opening up the town centre for traffic was feasible, but the Mayor of Seaton, Councillor Jack Rowland, who chaired the meeting, asked for a full report for next month’s meeting, saying: “I want to have more information available.”

    It is understood there will be wider public consultation before any decision is made to approach Devon County Council.

    The town council initiative to bring more life to the town centre was set up this summer after comments from visitors, businesses, residents and councillors that the town centre is looking tired and in need of a good spruce up.

    There was also concern about empty shops and that more needs to be done to actively encourage new businesses into the town.

    Seaton has seen a number of developments being completed in recent years including Tesco, Seaton Jurassic and the redevelopment of the Grove site.

    In addition, a new state-of-the-art tramway station is under construction along with a Premier Inn hotel.

    East Devon District Council insists attempts are being made to benefit the town centre.

    A report for EDDC’s October Cabinet meeting said: “The installation of discovery points as part of the Seaton Jurassic project encourage visitors to Seaton Jurassic to meander through the town centre, dispersing spend to local small businesses.

    “There has been some new activity in the retail area in the town centre which will soon see a new café opening within Fore Street and a new restaurant opposite Fisherman’s Gap. In addition, the town council now has approval for the esplanade improvement project.

    “The continued activities of the Seaton Town Team such as the Artisan Market, Cycle Fest, and Seaton Eats along with the entertainment offer of Seaton Gateway, some excellent new cafes and the weekly Seaton parkrun on the esplanade, have helped to create a more vibrant town with more to offer for its residents and visitors.

    “Anecdotal comments all point towards a positive attitude towards the town’s future prospects. Progress on development projects that are underway or in the pipeline will be discussed at a future meeting of the Seaton Regeneration Group, which will meet in October, chaired by Cllr Marcus Hartnell.”

    It has since been confirmed that this meeting will be held on October 11th.

    Chief Reporter | Started his working life on a farm before becoming a screen printer, both in Sweden. Had another career change and turned to journalism in the mid1990s. Enjoyed an internship with Alexandria Gazette Packet, Va, USA, before moving to the UK. Got a job with The Clarion in Yeovil in 1998, but moved to Axminster in 2006 and has worked on the East Devon beat since.