Redevelopment on World Heritage Coastline

for Seaton Town Council

Seaton is a small town located at the mouth of the river Axe, at the end of the Axe Valley in East Devon. The seafront is set within a Conservation Area and is bordered on both sides by the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Coastline. Although flanked by a beautiful mile-long beach, the amenity value of the seafront area is significantly impaired by decades of ad-hoc signage, expansive highways and dilapidated surfacing.

To support a key aspect of the town’s regeneration, Thread were appointed by Seaton Town Council in 2013 to provide the first stages of a master plan for comprehensive improvements to the Esplanade and Fisherman’s Gap roundabout.

In 2016 Thread completed a masterplan proposal, having invested significant time in both community and statutory consultation including local businesses, the Environment Agency, Planning, Heritage and Highways Authorities. It is critical to the success of the project that all of these consultees feel able to support the proposals and, to achieve this, the scheme sought to respond to the needs of the community, the unique physicality of the area and the specific character of the place.

To assist in this consultation we created a model of the esplanade and Fisherman’s Gap with David Wheeler of Right Angle Models. This has a flexible insert which enabled us to prepare and amend the area that represented the scope of our site as the design progressed through consultation. We responded to all of the points raised through the consultation process – while constantly checking that we were staying true to the original design concept of layering; inspired by the strata of the adjacent cliff landscape. We are also constantly mindful of how people want to move around, dwell and visit a seaside town.

Following the receipt of budget costings and consultation feedback, which proved the viability of the project, we developed the detailed design in collaboration with Structural and Civil Engineers, Sands. This formed the design information for the planning application which included changes to the seafront, including significant changes to the existing roundabout, a new area of pedestrianisation and a replacement building on the site of the current Moridunum.

Planning permission for the £5M scheme was approved with unanimous support at committee in August 2017 and Seaton Town Council are subsequently developing a fundraising strategy with a view to realising the works in three distinct phases.

We are really excited by the potential for this project which, once realised, will contribute to revitalising the area, improve footfall to local businesses, and have a positive impact on the community and local economy.