To receive a presentation and update from Eden.
A presentation was given by a representative of Eden which provided an update on the Eden grounds project. The representative highlighted the following:
· In 2016 the Eden Westwood was created and this became part of Mid Devon District Council’s local plan. However, this project was stalled due to the Pandemic.
· Since the last update the site and masterplan had been reviewed, which included the possible outdoor activities, employment opportunities and informal and formal communications with landowners.
· It was considered if the project could be bought forward in a phased approach.
· There was an opportunity for more visitors to be attracted to Mid Devon.
· It was believed that this project would need to generate 180 jobs which would generate circa 200 indirect jobs.
· It was believed that there would be sufficient footfall for this project to be supported.
· The retail element of this project was critical in terms of driving land value.
· Increased costs had a detrimental impact on the project, which had put the project on hold but there was a desire for the project to be continued.
The Chair thanked the Eden representative for their presentation, consideration was given to:
· Pausing the project was a missed opportunity to attract footfall to Mid Devon. The representative noted that though the project had stalled there was still an opportunity for this project, however the current economic crisis had made this a challenge.
· It was asked if the jobs created would be well paid, to which the representative mentioned that these jobs would cover a variety of roles and sectors and that Eden’s aspiration was to pay at least the living wage.
· Asked if a lake would need to create for the wild swimming activity, the Eden representative confirmed that a lake would need to be created.
· The local plan was delayed in 2016 for this project to be included and it was raised where the drive and focus for this project would come from. The Eden representative explained that Eden would work with investors to drive the project.
The Director of Place added that although the local plan was still in place the update provided had not shown how this project could be delivered moving forward. This raised questions over what would happen to the sight in the short term, however Mid Devon District Council (MDDC) continued to liaise with land owners. That the motorway service element could be an early part of that delivery, in addition, a retail, leisure and tourism study was due to take place for Mid Devon. MDDC would continue to identify deliverable opportunities to the benefit of the district.
· That land ownership was a challenge and that a phased delivery seemed logical, but was concerned that the tourist and leisure elements of this project might not be delivered for a long time.
· Shops in towns were already struggling and to regenerate those would prove to be challenging if a shopping centre were to be built, detracting footfall from the shops in those areas.
RESOLVED: That the presentation be noted.