Plans to revamp Ilfracombe seafront to both attract tourists and prevent flooding are ‘not a million miles away’.

Ilfracombe mayor Val Gates. Picture: Debbie SodenIlfracombe mayor Val Gates. Picture: Debbie Soden

The Gazette has been speaking to the mayor, Councillor Val Gates, who says the town council and One Ilfracombe has been working with North Devon Council (NDC) to look at the future of the seafront.

NDC has commissioned a consultant Node to come up with a design for the area, stretching from the Susan Day home up to the harbour.

The Environment Agency has already said money is available to carry out improvements to the sea defences to prevent flooding and is proposing to carry out the work by March 2021, in conjunction with the district council.

Ms Gates said the plan would be broken into four stages and would involve re-landscaping as well as focusing on facilities that would attract tourists.

She said this would involve looking at the use of Capstone and the ‘southern slopes’ to the rear of Wildersmouth Beach, as well as the empty site where the old Pavilion used to stand.

She said: “Improvement of the seafront is really important, it’s a big flooding area and the EA is prepared to put some money there.

“It’s not a million miles away but there is still some money to be found. The sea defences have to be raised but it does not mean a solid brick wall.”

The Gazette was speaking to Ms Gates as she settled into her first term of May after assuming the office in May, during her first term as a town councillor.

The 73-year-old and her wife Amanda had a holiday home in the town but decided to move there for good in 2004.

They run their own business psychology service called Chromis Consulting, helping to select candidates for jobs.

Ms Gates said with projects such as the new watersports centre and the proposed new rugby club facilities, there was a huge amount going on in the town and she felt it had changed for the better.

She said she would like to see Ilfracombe gain a reputation as a ‘sporty town’, as well as a foodie and arty’ town.

She would also like to see something such as events or attractions for visitors that would bridge the gap between the summer and Christmas and extend the tourist season.