Tower of strength

SIR - I was most disappointed to read about the very inappropriate and modest proposals for construction on the site of the old Drill Hall.

The demolition of this eyesore is long overdue but this site is of major importance to the appearance of Sidmouth seafront as it marks the eastern end of the seafront development and as such needs a “strong” construction to help balance this area with the significant buildings of the western end.

My proposal is for a “Jurassic Tower”. This would not be a modernist tower but would be a soft “curvy” structure such as pioneered by architects Frank Gehry, Gaudi et al and which create interest in towns and cities worldwide.

It would have a rough finish in red sandstone to match the cliffs across the river. The height would be higher than these cliffs and would be determined by modelling the area.

The ground floor would contain a relocated TIC, a Jurassic Interpretation centre and a meeting room for talks and walks. The upper floors would be residential apartments, whose sale would finance the project and the top floor would be divided into a viewing platform for visitors to look over the coast and a roof garden for residents. The public toilets would also be relocated.

The advantages of this are:

1. To create interest in Sidmouth and show a creative and forward-looking community, rather than being regarded as a retirement population.

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2. To show that Sidmouth is the ideal venue from which to explore the Jurassic coastline and that it is prepared to invest in this.

3. The small “footprint” required would allow the fishermen’s yard to be retained and possibly some other interesting local outlets to be developed.

4. To boost our tourist trade by creating out of season interest in this and our other heritage buildings.

The built environment of Sidmouth has suffered over the last century from demolition of interesting buildings and their replacement by bland structures. This is our one chance to reverse this trend and we must grasp this unique opportunity. Come on, Sidmouth, let’s do it!

Roger Packe, Sidmouth