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Jurassic Coast Gateway nearing completion

The Geoneedle. Photographer: David WestacottExmouth is taking pride of place at the Western end of the Jurassic Coast as finishing touches are applied at the Jurassic Coast Gateway.

The £500,000 scheme will be completed in time for the Easter holidays, transforming the Orcombe area of Exmouth and highlighting its status as the oldest part of the World Heritage Site.

Devon County Council has funded the improvements, working in partnership with East Devon District Council, Exmouth Town Council, the National Trust and Clinton Devon Estates, and in liaison with the Jurassic Coast and South West Coast Path Teams.

Work on the scheme has been carried out in three separate phases since November 2011. Firstly, signage and interpretation has been installed between Foxholes Car Park through to Devon Cliffs Holiday Park, including the zig-zag path to promote a number of circular trails.

There have also been improvements to the Geoneedle area on the cliff top at Orcombe involving re-profiling the land to create a retaining wall with integrated seating, an orientation point with stone pavers and interpretative pavers and markers.

Finally, a pedestrianisation scheme has been developed at the far end of Queens Drive with the creation of a World Heritage Site interpretative seating area, with coloured surfacing in the form of a simplified ammonite and relocation of the flagpoles for the Exmouth Jurassic banners.  It is hoped this area will become known as Orcombe Gate. 

As well as creating a more welcoming environment, the scheme also gives greater prominence to the “Geoneedle” which was erected on the cliff top at Orcombe in 2002 to mark the official designation of the World Heritage Site status.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Exmouth has prestigious status as a gateway town to the Jurassic Coast and it now has a public area which celebrates that. This scheme has revitalised the Orcombe Point area of Exmouth and it has created a much more accessible and welcoming environment for visitors and local people to explore the coastline. Not only will this benefit local people but I’m sure it will attract people to the town and enable them to make more of their visit which is good news for the local economy.”

Councillor Eileen Wragg, local County Councillor for Exmouth Littleham and Town, said: “The original bid in 2008 was for a Visitors’ Centre, with £250,000 from the sale of Exeter Airport, matched with a further £250,000 from Devon County Council. However no site was available, so the current scheme was developed which sensitively enhances the natural surroundings of the red sandstone cliffs. It also provides an elegant upgrading of Orcombe Point and is most appropriate as a friendly Gateway to the Jurassic Coast. Thanks must go to those who did so much research and work to bring the project to fruition.”

Image: The Geoneedle. Photographer: David Westacott

Published on: March 28, 2013