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SEATON: Hotel plans for Seaton Heights back on track

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Plans for a hotel and luxury lodges at Seaton?Heights are back on track after the parties involved met to thrash out their differences.
Last month Lyme Bay Leisure’s planning application was refused by East Devon District Council (EDDC) because it lacked a bat impact assessment, requested by Natural England.
Lyme Bay Leisure said the request came out of the blue and posed a threat to the whole project as the assessment can only be carried out in summer - thereby delaying the project at considerable cost.
But, following the meeting, Lyme Bay Leisure chairman David Sullivan is hopeful construction work can start this summer.
He explained: “Following a positive meeting, facilitated by MP Neil Parish, hopes are high that the project is finally back on track and heading for a solution.
“Following consultation with respected and renowned conservationists it was possible to identify [bat] flight paths from current available data and expert local knowledge and to identify mitigation measures.
“Natural England and EDDC accepted this approach as an appropriate way forward that didn’t jeopardize future habitats for existing bats and the flight routes across the site.
“Lyme Bay Leisure agreed to make significant changes to the scheme to re-house existing bats in a purpose built roost and to safeguard routes across the site with changes to the landscaping and the site lighting scheme and to reduce development in certain areas of the site.”
A revised planning application will be submitted and it is hoped approval will be given in April or May, leading to a start on construction this summer.
Mr Sullivan added: “We are grateful to Neil Parish for setting up this meeting and to EDDC and Natural England for showing the willingness to find a balance without compromising the stability of the bat population, treasuring local ecology, yet enabling development to go ahead bringing with it much needed jobs and visitors to East Devon.’’
Lyme Bay Leisure MD James Hetherington praised the local ecologists and bat conservationists who encouraged the company to keep going and helped devise strategies which offered protection to bats and wildlife.
He said: “Lyme Bay Leisure takes very seriously its responsibilities for wildlife protection.
“As a local business we have an interest in retaining the area’s natural beauty as a place we want visitors to continue to visit.”
The company plans to build a high quality holiday village on the site of the old Seaton Heights Hotel composed of a boutique hotel, a spa, a gym and a swimming pool, and 38 holiday homes – creating lots of jobs.
“The company estimates that 70 construction workers will be needed and, when the complex is up and running, 40 members of staff will be employed.”

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