The Sidmouth Herald ‘s Opinion page today had more highly critical letters, based on planning issues, of the combined Councils’s one proposal (put forward by EDDC jointly with STC). One letter is copied below; the others to follow. All are from Sid Valley residents, although visitors to the town might well share precisely the same concerns.
The massive bulk of the proposed building at Port Royal would be disastrous for the look and feel of the seafront and the Ham. The view from the seafront at present shows the lifeboat station, sailing club and Drill Hall gradually tapering down to a view of the cliffs. By contrast, the height and size of the proposed new building would give a very hard finish to the seafront, would obscure part of the view of the cliffs, and would not fit in with the surrounding natural environment or existing buildings. Meanwhile, the Ham would be dominated by the height and shadow of the proposed building.
The proposed building is in a Conservation Area, but what we are being offered is not conservation. We do not need 30 very expensive apartments, and we already have a lifeboat station and facilities for the sailing club and gig club. The best approach for Sidmouth would be to refurbish what is already there, and the land at Port Royal should continue to be used mainly for community benefit.
The Drill Hall is a historic building which gives a link to Sidmouth’s past, and thus it is important to Sidmouth. Although it has been neglected over recent years, it could and should be refurbished (possibly with grant aid) as an attractive and interesting building for community services / visitor services / small performance venue / café. Its historic interest would give extra appeal for visitors etc, and it would fit in well with other elements in the Conservation area. The information centre could also possibly find a more prominent location in the refurbished Drill Hall.
The fishing boats drawn up at the head of the beach currently add to the area’s character and should be retained in that location, whilst the fishermen’s sales area should also be retained. We cannot afford to lose public car parking spaces, and we surely do not want boats parked on the Ham.
Might the proposed new massive building represent substantial harm to the Conservation Area, or to the setting of the Sidmouth coast, which is part of a World Heritage Site? – if so, unless there are substantial public benefits, it seems that this might be contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework. And could demolition of the Drill Hall, resulting in irretrievable loss of a historic building, represent substantial harm to the Conservation Area?
The proposed new massive building and associated changes for Port Royal represent the wrong plan – inappropriate for a Sidmouth Conservation Area – in the wrong place – Flood Zone 3, and with the protection offered by the cliffs under threat – and at the wrong time – the priority should be to reinstate the Eastern beach.