Buildings are earmarked for town visitor centre

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By North Devon Journal | Thursday, March 07, 2013, 07:30

BIDEFORD town councillors have voted unanimously to look into turning three buildings in the centre of the town into a visitor and research centre.

The motion was put forward by Councillor David Howell at the full council meeting held on Thursday last week.

The buildings which have been earmarked are 1-3 Bridge Street which is where it is believed Elizabethan explorer Sir Richard Grenville was born.

The discovery was made last year by historian David Carter along with the help of Councillor Andy Powell.

Mr Howell explained the centre would have an educational aspect with a research facility as well as providing visitor information.

He made it clear at the meeting that at this stage he is not asking for any financial commitment from the council.

Instead he simply wanted the council's backing to go and draw up a business plan and approach funding bodies to contribute to the project which is estimated will cost £400,000 in total.

He said: "It is not a commitment, it is simply if I can get everything together then at a future point, say in 12 months' time, more commitment will be given.

"Of course I may come back and say it is not viable, I don't know yet.

"I will commit my last two years as a councillor to seeing this through."

Not all councillors were convinced by the lack of a business plan and Councillor David Brenton aired concerns over the location of the site, saying that people often drive into the town and park the other end of the town at the Pill Car Park, meaning they would miss the centre.

But this was countered by suggestions that good signage would overcome this problem.

Mr Powell confirmed he was friends with the owners of the properties and knew they wanted to give the council first refusal on the site to ensure it becomes a facility for the public.

The motion was passed unanimously and Mr Howell said his next step would be to have a formal evaluation carried out on the buildings.

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