Could Ex­mouth be the new Mar­gate?

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

e Ex­mouth. In an at­tempt to boost in­vest­ment and re­vi­talise the town, the lo­cal author­ity has called on the ex­per­tise of fash­ion de­signer Wayne Hem­ing­way. The founder of the Red or Dead fash­ion brand has, through his work re­viv­ing the faded sea­side towns of Mar­gate, Low­est­oft and Bog­nor Regis, be­come an un­likely fig­ure­head for coastal re­de­vel­op­ment. “With­out doubt, Ex­mouth could be a real gem,” says Hem­ing­way. “There’s a shift in per­cep­tion and a re­dis­cov­ery of the beau­ties of the English s sea­side, seas de but of­ten there’s a lack of awaren aware­ness.” In M Mar­gate, Hem­ing­way brought life back to Dream­land, one of t the UK’s old­est amuse­ment park parks, which had fallen into dis dis­re­pair. Re­build­ing roller er­coast­ers, bring­ing in v vin­tage rides, and adding a roller disco made the once-dis­mal place into a hip­ster hotspot, and helped bring money and jobs back into the town. Hem­ing­way says there needs to be a re­think about the types of food out­lets, ho­tels and leisure of­fer­ings to ap­peal more t to younger peo­ple. “The mil­len­nial generati ation is re­dis­cov­er­ing the Bri­tish sea­side,” he adds. “Look at places like Mar­gate and Hast­ings – the beau­ties and ben­e­fits of the sea­side are be­ing re-eval­u­ated.”

There has al­ready been some progress in re­de­vel­op­ing Ex­mouth. In 2010, the Strand, a public square in the town cen­tre, was given a £3mil­lion facelift. The next phase, cur­rently go­ing through the plan­ning process, in­volves over­haul­ing parts of the seafront.

Pop-up at­trac­tions, such as a Juras­sic-themed play area for chil­dren and a big screen, are be­ing in­stalled this sum­mer, and there are plans for a world-class wa­ter­sports cen­tre with an event space, din­ing and re­tail out­lets.

There are more ideas for re­vamp­ing the re­tail cen­tre, and the green­ing, pedes­tri­an­i­sa­tion and re­de­vel­op­ment of traf­fic-heavy ar­eas. “We need to spend money,” says Cllr Philip Skin­ner, chair­man of the town’s re­gen­er­a­tion board. “We need to fo­cus on what the cul­ture is here, to get the bal­ance right for all res­i­dents.”

Lit­tle things go a long way, adds Hem­ing­way. “It’s all about be­lief… in Ex­mouth. Change doesn’t al­ways have to be a big bang. Small things can make a dif­fer­ence, such as Dream­land and the Turner Gallery in Mar­gate, or the tiny beach café in Lit­tle­hamp­ton.

“Peo­ple want space and af­ford­abil­ity. They’re al­ready mov­ing to th­ese places and there’s a cre­ative resur­gence. It’s ex­cit­ing to see what’s hap­pen­ing in towns such as More­cambe and Low­est­oft.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chris Clif­ford of Sav­ills’ Ex­eter of­fice, Ex­mouth is re­garded as a “poor re­la­tion” to more up­mar­ket De­von re­sorts, which im­pacts on prop­erty val­ues. “It has at­tributes that could make it in­ter­est­ing to buy­ers, but it’s seen as a bit ‘kiss-me-quick’, so prop­erty val­ues are 15 to 20 per cent lower than, say, the South Hams.”

How­ever, Lorna Brooks, ne­go­tia­tor at lo­cal es­tate agent Bradleys, feels this is an out­dated im­pres­sion. “The change in Ex­mouth has been amaz­ing. Last year was our best year ever for sales. Around 30 per cent of buy­ers are from out of town, and prop­er­ties in key lo­ca­tions, such as the ma­rina, are sell­ing well.”

Brooks says the re­tiree mar­ket is still prom­i­nent, but she’s also see­ing more pro­fes­sion­als and fam­i­lies mov­ing in, per­haps be­cause they are pushed out of Ex­eter by its boom­ing mar­ket.

Prices in Ex­mouth have risen by around 10 to 12 per cent in the past year, and start at around £150,000 for a two-bed­room apart­ment or £220,000 for a two-bed­room Vic­to­rian ter­race. Key ar­eas for bet­ter-off buy­ers in­clude The Bea­con and Fox­holes Hill, where three to five-bed­room homes with sea views sell from around £700,000 to more than £1.5mil­lion.

Hem­ing­way says the first chal­lenge with projects such as Ex­mouth is to gather a dy­namic and cre­ative team, but also to en­gage with res­i­dents and lo­cal busi­ness own­ers.

“It’s not al­ways about rein­ven­tion, but re­mind­ing peo­ple of the value of a place,” he says. “Ex­mouth has a great lo­ca­tion, it’s within easy reach of Ex­eter, which is walk­ing with a swag­ger right now. They should be chan­nelling that. Ex­mouth can achieve what other coastal towns have.”

The Gut, main; Cliff Cot­tage, £1.5m at Knight Frank, below

De­signer Wayne Hem­ing­way, left; fourbed­room house, £600,000 with Bradleys, above

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