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Rowing club eyes new watersports hub for Exeter

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

By Richard Birch

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PLANS are being drawn up which could see a new home created for watersports clubs in the city.

Exeter Rowing Club, along with other members of the Exe Watersports Association based at Haven Banks, are preparing a joint funding bid to help get the proposed move started.

The clubs have been using city council-owned buildings on Exeter Canal for the past 25 years and, while they were "fit for purpose" when they were first bought into use, they now "provide no opportunity for growth".

Paul Wilson, vice-chairman of the rowing club, said: "All of the clubs here have grown and our needs are now greater than the space we have.

"We want to be able to offer more opportunities for children and chances for people with disabilities to participate but, if we bought new equipment, we would simply have nowhere to put it.

"Our changing rooms are very limited and, in terms of developing talent, we find that members have to leave Exeter as, although our coaches are excellent, we can only offer so much."

The proposals are in the early stages but the clubs hope to develop a site near to the current base.

"This will be a joint application involving all the clubs so we will be under one roof," said Paul.

"We need each other to get the grant aid we will need to make this happen, but we will also be required to generate a lot of funding ourselves to meet any grant shortfalls.

"We also want to remain here as Exeter Canal and the River Exe offer such an excellent place to train, whether its socially or competitively."

The clubs have already held initial discussions with Exeter City Council about their plans and say they have the backing of several city councillors.

Paul added: "We don't want to get a long way down the road and find that we have been asking for the impossible.

"Our aim is to get as many people on board with this and have them help us to bring this to completion. We were very lucky to be given the chance to make these buildings our home but now we have to move forward and stop putting good money into bad. It's a very exciting time."

The clubs hope work could start in three years and a number of fundraising events will be organised in coming months.

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