THE district council’s withdrawn plans to demolish Sidmouth’s Drill Hall were branded “unacceptable” - by its own conservation officer.

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A report on the now shelved application described the venue as “architecturally unremarkable” and “in a poor state of repair”.

However, the officer said the principle of demolition needed to be considered following an assessment of its significance within the conservation area it sits in – and did not consider this has been done.

“While an assessment may very well conclude that the aesthetic significance is limited, the cultural significance of the former use of the building may be considered important,” said the officer.

The council has described the hall as “dilapidated” but it was added in the report that the condition of the building “should not necessarily be justification for its demolition”.

The officer asked for evidence to demonstrate that alternative uses have been sought and suitably dismissed.

It was recommended that the proposal is “unacceptable” unless a “cogent” case can be presented for demolition.

The Herald revealed earlier this month how East Devon District Council (EDDC) withdrew its demolition application in response to calls from Sidmouth campaigners who want to retain and refurbish it for community use.

The group of residents have been given a chance to properly look at the financial viability of their ideas for the historic premises - and investigate obtaining the funds to acquire the site.

In order to make it possible for the ageing building to be vacated, EDDC spent £600,000 on providing alternative premises for the Army Cadet Force on a site in Chambers Close following negotiations with Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadet Association.

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