DEVELOPMENTS including housing, businesses, cafes and retail are all moving forward in Seaton as the town continues to change for the better.

Last week’s meeting of all the organisations involved in planning and encouraging this regeneration warmly welcomed the progress being made in the town.

Councillor Ian Thomas, East Devon District Council’s cabinet member for economy and chairman of the Seaton Regeneration Programme Board, said: “I see enormous evidence that Seaton has very much reached a ‘new dawn’, after some difficult years.

"The number of empty shops has reduced, from 16 five years ago to just four more recently. A local agent has recently advised that it typically takes just three months to let a vacant shop unit now, much quicker than had historically been the case.

“We have a new local glassmaker, new butcher and two further take-away sandwich shops in the town. Numerous existing shops, cafes and businesses have improved their frontages for the 2014 season.

"Two new cafes, one on the seafront and another in Cross Street, are already proving popular. Competition amongst our catering businesses can only be a good thing, driving improvements in quality and choice.

"With Seaton Jurassic still to come I expect to see further new business including much needed holiday accommodation.”

The Seaton Regeneration Programme Board heard a presentation from Bovis Homes who this week started work on their housing development off Harbour Road that will see some 222 homes built over the next three to four years with the first 12 available early in 2015.

The development will include a mix of homes, from 2-bed apartments to 4-bed detached houses, which should attract a wide range of buyers.

David Duignan, Area Sales Manager, South West region, for Bovis Homes said: “The development will be known as Pebble Beach and will provide great opportunities for local first-time buyers and growing families.

"The Government’s Help to Buy Equity scheme for new-build homes will be available at Seaton, which means buyers could receive an equity loan for 20% of the value of the home, leaving them needing just a 5% deposit and 75% mortgage to move in. Seaton is a flagship development for us and we look forward to creating a vibrant new neighbourhood in this lovely community.”

Work will start this summer on Seaton Jurassic, the new visitor centre, following a successful bid to the Coastal Communities Fund.

The result of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is expected in the next few weeks. However, sufficient funding is now in place to begin the building of the centre that will attract thousands of visitors and boost the tourism economy by some £4m per year.

Seaton Jurassic is due to open late in 2015 and local people will be amongst the first to be invited in to see inside the centre reflecting the hard work and support the community has given the project over many years.

The Board also heard an update on the work of the Seaton Town Development Team who, along with the other East Devon coastal towns, held a very successful familiarisation event for travel writers and tourism businesses last month.

The event launched the visitor website and brochure highlighting the many activities the Jurassic Coast has to offer visitors and led to some positive coverage for the town in publications including The Guardian, Coast and Country, and Devon Life and a plethora of blog and social media discussions.

Business opportunities are to be given a boost with the proposed new workshops at Colyford Road and Fosseway Park with the latter development having received planning permission last month.

The planning application for Colyford Road is set to be heard in July.

A full review of business space across East Devon is also being undertaken and this will inform the nature and size of any future workshop or workspace developments.

Finally Seaton Town Council gave an update on a project to enhance the seafront in the town with improved street furniture, signage and lighting planned.

Seaton Regeneration Programme consists of representatives from the local community and businesses along with officers and members of Devon County, East Devon District and Seaton Town councils.