The Queen’s Drive Delivery Group had previously debated for two posts to be appointed on fixed term contracts to focus on property and place interventions in Exmouth generally. This would include Queen’s Drive, which would take priority and it was envisaged that it would consume 50% of the resource which would include a Development Project Surveyor and an Engagement Officer. On 3 March 2021 Cabinet agreed the recommendation that up to £200,000 be made available from the Business Rates Pilot Reserve for a Development Surveyor and an Engagement / Project Officer for a term of 2 years, dedicated to moving forward a suite of place & prosperity based projects in Exmouth and to include Queen’s Drive.
Once approvals were in place, job descriptions and person specifications would be finalised and recruitment would commence. To inform this work, the Service Lead – Place, Assets and Commercialisation sought guidance from the Queen’s Drive Delivery Group on:
1. The roles are about Place & Prosperity interventions, capitalising on the breadth of Council assets and linked to supporting economic recovery through direct interventions. What are the initial identified key opportunities/ untapped potential for Place & Prosperity based interventions in Exmouth?
2. How much reliance is to be placed on previous consultation and visioning work? Thoughts on further consultation and visioning work needed.
3. The funding for resource is for a maximum of 2 years. What will success look like after 6 months, 1 year and 2 years of those posts being filled? In some instances this will be about direct delivery, but in other instances will be about identifying projects and developing into credible business cases to secure 3d party engagement and / or funding including from Government.
Subsequent discussion included:
· The outcomes the Group were looking for would guide the skill set, capacity and timing of the posts.
· The roles should be commercially viable and sustainable.
· Applicants should have a commercial background and experience of commercial lettings and uses.
· Consider using closed shops and redundant buildings for pop up shops and events.
· There should be an arts centre, to utilise the wealth of talent in Exmouth.
· There should be consultation with the public.
· There was the issue of ownership in the town centre. Most of the redundant buildings were not within the Council’s control.
· Many of the issues in the town centre related to retail and it was likely that the Council had limited options.
· Two years was a short period of time – there was the need to be very clear on what was to be achieved in the limited amount, with the limited amount of resources. It was important to identify things that were achievable in two years.
· It was important to focus on Council owned assets and consider how the assets could be used through place and prosperity interventions to support economic recovery. Projects should be used to get traction on and relate to the use of Council assets, such as the leisure centre, car parks, Imperial Recreation ground and the seafront.
· Identify the opportunities to do things differently and make better use of the Council’s assets.
· It would be helpful to list all the Council’s assets in Exmouth.
· The emphasis should be on economic recovery.
· Exmouth was the largest town in East Devon, with the largest amount of assets and therefore huge untapped potential.
· A list of all the projects previously identified in the master plan and neighbourhood plan would be useful. Some of these had been delivered, but others had not. This could be a starting point for the new officers when appointed.
· Hemingway had raised aspects along the seafront to be considered.
· The first three months in post should be spent gathering information, considering what had already been achieved, projects which had not been delivered, and speaking to people. After three months the officers should have a full understanding and awareness of what the Group and the community wanted.
· The vision of councillors, the Queen’s Drive Delivery Group and the public should be joined up.
· Queen’s Drive should not be looked at in isolation to the town.
· Engage with Exmouth Town Council.
· Partnership working offered huge potential and the opportunity to draw additional funding.
· What is Exmouth? Who decided what it should be/become? There was a massive opportunity to do something positive but people needed to be asked what they wanted in order for them to accept it.
· Public consultation was essential.
· The role of the Delivery Group was to influence through the two new posts. Facilitating places and influencing how people could use the town. Encompassing people to use places and using Council assets to address behaviours and influence outside bodies.
· Often one project acted as a catalyst for others.
· Two or three things needed to be seen to be achieved over the next couple of years.