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Exmouth manager: 'Don't pull down our lovely café'

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

By Fran McElhone

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THE manager of a popular seafront café in Exmouth has expressed her concerns at East Devon District Council's plans to knock it down as part of its ambitious but controversial regeneration scheme.

Dawn Hirst's family have been the tenants and managers of the Harbour View Café for around 35 years.

As part of the Exmouth Masterplan, a document which outlines future regeneration proposals for the town, the vision is to create a "vibrant" recreation area between the old Lifeboat Station and the Maer known as the Splash Zone.

As previously reported by the Echo, another public consultation has been launched on the latest plans which incorporate the demolition of the Harbour View Café to make way for a new two storey café/restaurant.

The council has confirmed that the site will either be sold or leased on a long-term basis – either way, Mrs Hirst does not know if she will be able to continue as a tenant.

The 42-year-old manager said ultimately she wants to see the building saved from redevelopment and she wants to work with the council on finding a solution which would not mean the end of her business and the much-loved café.

She said that because of the short-term lease granted by the council, she has not been able to apply for the necessary bank loans to pay for desired modernisation.

However, she said the café's nostalgia and simplicity has ensured repeat business, both by residents and visitors to the town, for decades. She said if the council decides to redevelop the building, the worst-case scenario will be that she, and her staff, will be out of a job by the end of her current lease which is about two years away.

"When I first heard about the proposals I was completely gutted," she said. "The café means so much to so many people – people love it for what it is.

"It's so much more than just a café, it's a lifeline for some elderly people – I'm very sentimental about it and so are my customers."

Mrs Hirst said she would like to see the café modernised and improved but the building preserved.

"I want to work with the council and I hope they will listen to the views of the public," she added.

Redevelopment proposals also include the creation of two large play and recreation areas, a public square, shops, and a new watersports hub offering hiring, training and retail facilities. A hotel or holiday accommodation scheme is proposed for the northwest of the site.

The council "anticipates" that a new coastwatch tower, currently situated above the Harbour View Café, will be provided as part of any redevelopment.

In addition, car parking with at least 200 spaces would be moved to the rear of the site, with the current road moved back from the seafront to allow direct access to the beach and sea for all enjoying the watersports and play areas.

The plans are available to view at www.exmouthvision. com and in the window of the former Thomas Tucker shop window.

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  • dixieland01  |  December 14 2012, 2:01PM

    I am well and truly shocked at the councils decision to demolish and re-develop the Harbour View Cafe. Not only is it a landmark that portrays Exmouth's proud heritage but it is also the lifeblood and heritage of the family who have been loyal tenants for the last 35 years who's lives and business they are now demolishing along with the building.

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  • TheGambolar  |  December 13 2012, 8:37PM

    Exmouth Cafe is the Place i have visited for many a year This as been a place i visit each time i am there the food is great and the Management / Staff are very friendly, The Sea Front would be losing a very popular sea side cafe, which I personally find a nice place to visit while in Exmouth Please Save this popular cafe, it would be such a shame to lose it

    Rate   8
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  • glasshalffull  |  December 13 2012, 6:13PM

    I come to Exmouth every couple of months to visit friends and this café is the one we always come to for breakfast after walking the dogs. Give me this one any day over some posh, upmarket, overpriced café. I love the warm, friendly atmosphere and the good choice of food. I hope it stays.

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  • tellsbells1  |  December 13 2012, 6:12PM

    I think this is quite disgusting, knocking down a lovely old building, ruining a marvellous family business that caters for all, including the elderly that love the friendly atmosphere, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Rate   8
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  • fibresand  |  December 13 2012, 6:02PM

    I had the pleasure of visiting this café earlier this year, and was served by a delightful and very friendly manageress. The food was inexpensive and of good quality. It was great to see all ages of visitors and locals alike enjoying themselves with nothing seemingly too much trouble for the staff. If this decision carries through, I do hope the management and staff will be duly compensated for deprivation of employment.

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  • geoff21  |  December 13 2012, 5:30PM

    There is no need to demolish it just update the interior. Job done. Any way these people in Sidmouth cant even get their own move to Honiton right.

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  • Grapenut  |  December 13 2012, 5:08PM

    Excellent points that you've raised eeore94! The proposed demolition of the Harbour View shows that Exmouth is now being ruled by officialdom, the kind of stuck-up bureaucrats who wouldn't know a fine sausage sarnie from a decent plate of egg and chips. Pass the brown sauce, mate!

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  • eeyore94  |  December 13 2012, 4:45PM

    Totally disgusted by the councils disregard for public opinion and the way they can just make people unemployed in the name progress.This is no more than vandalism of the highest calibre.Yet again jumped up little officialdom's with clipboards can only see pound signs instead of preserving our heritage and history plus destroying a local community and a life line for those who use the cafe as a meeting place to see old friends for a chat a cuppa and a friendly smile from the members of staff. If the council gets its way, Exmouth with become yet another part of generic Britain plc with its faceless, characterless facade of new brightly coloured buildings that are ten a penny in every town in the UK these days.Whoever came up with this mickey Mouse scheme should hang their heads in shame,Vandalism sheer vandalism and a travesty for democracy.

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  • dimondbabe  |  December 13 2012, 3:21PM

    i go harbour view every week with my darlin doggys. its always made them welcome. not many cafes let dogs in so where will the doggys and the owners go after there walks on the beach?

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  • Grapenut  |  December 13 2012, 3:17PM

    Re: Exmouth's Harbour View being pulled down. Everyone's entitled to their opinion. Pete13, along with EDDC, thinks the cafe needs redeveloping. I don't. The Harbour View is an institution, much loved by generations of Exmothians. The reason is simple: the cafe offers basic food at keen prices in unfussy surroundings, with a terrific view of the seafront. The cafe does what it does really well, the staff are very helpful, and the Harbour View is incredibly popular. Why change? There's no need.

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