Drill Hall campaigner hits out at Port Royal ‘propaganda’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 September 2017

The Sidmouth Lifeboat station, sailing club and Drill Hall at Port Royal

The Sidmouth Lifeboat station, sailing club and Drill Hall at Port Royal

Archant

A campaigner determined to see Sidmouth’s Drill Hall considered as part of any regeneration plans for Port Royal has slammed ‘propaganda’ from project leaders.

Mary Walden-Till’s research into the history of the eastern town has covered much of the same ground as the scoping study commissioned by landowners Sidmouth Town Council (STC) and East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Town clerk Christopher Holland and Councillor Jeff Turner sat down with the Herald in a bid to reassure residents nothing has yet been decided – but Ms Walden-Till took issue with several of the points they raised.

She raised: “I know that both Cllr Turner and Mr Holland are committed to doing what they think is the best for Sidmouth so I was very disappointed to read something in the Herald (‘Port Royal could see massive development - or nothing at all’) which appeared to be propaganda rather than unadorned fact.

“If we want the best outcome for the town, we all need to make sure we are not playing games, even accidentally. If they can’t avoid ‘spin’ then they can’t claim to be open-minded on the issue. It is a matter of fact that both of them are on record as being vehemently opposed to preserving the Drill Hall.

“If the starting point is that the Drill Hall must be demolished, then it has to be accepted that it is unlikely that a developer would be interested in such a small plot, so then the search begin for a way to make it worth a developer’s time.

As a designer, it is important to me to start a project with no preconceptions about what should be removed or retained in order to achieve the desired result.

“The scoping exercise consultants should have started from the same point, and we should be able to see that they had considered a range of ways of increasing what Port Royal can offer to the town.

“This development should be about the town and not about ways of making money for the district as a whole. The district has already benefitted from Sidmouth’s loss in far too many circumstances: for example the loss of Fortfield Hotel to expensive apartments, the Section 106 money from which went to the district not solely to Sidmouth, and the upcoming loss of the council jobs at the Knowle, moving employment from Sidmouth to other areas of the district.

“To suggest that reusing the Drill Hall will of necessity ‘take away from other users’ of Port Royal is clearly ridiculous. How would preserving what is there at the same time reduce what is there?”

In a joint statement, Mr Holland and Cllr Turner said: “STC and EDDC would like to reiterate the aims of the scoping study. It is to research, investigate and report on the opportunities and constraints of improving the whole important Port Royal area.

“The councils have yet to receive the independent consultant’s Scoping Study to even begin discussing issues such as detailed designs, which would come further along in the project.

“The study is the start of a process that would, if supported by the councils, involve a much more detailed visioning for future consideration.

“To champion a single building at this stage which is a small part of a much larger area and be in constant opposition to a simple study which only aims to help inform councillors is not helpful.

“Members of both councils will decide how and if to proceed once the scoping study report is presented to them.”

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Other News Stories

Countryside volunteers are flying the flag with pride once again as a Sidmouth beauty spot has retained its status as one of the best parks in the world.

Read more

A homeless man who broke into 17 churches and caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage has been jailed.

Read more

It was a night of celebration as Ottery scout group recognised its young members and volunteers achievements over the last 12 months.

Read more

An Exeter band has defended themselves after being accused of ‘controlling’ performance space at FolkWeek.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:38

A Sidmouth pooch is hoping to make people smile after qualifying as a therapy pet.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:30

A thousand years of Ottery’s history has gone on display at the town’s new heritage museum, which opened its doors for the first time this week.

Read more
Sunday, August 12, 2018

One-day event is a ‘foodie’s paradise’, showcasing the best local produce

Read more
Sunday, August 12, 2018

Discover the wealth of marine wildlife in rockpools, in a guided exploration

Read more
Sunday, August 12, 2018

Staff at Coleridge Medical Centre have been praised for their ‘effectiveness’ and ‘compassion’ by health inspectors, as part of a ‘good’ Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.

Read more
Sunday, August 12, 2018

The original Fairport Convention was a bunch of friends meeting after school to play music. That was back in the sixties and as founder member Simon Nicol explained that was what you did.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 16°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Sidmouth Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sidmouth Herald twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Show Job Lists


Find planning applications