Sidmouth Town Council currently provides services to the young people of Sidmouth from the Manstone Youth Centre in partnership with Young Devon.

We want to ensure that the service provided fully meets the needs of young people. So, we commissioned a study from Design West on the needs of the young people, as well as the services currently provided by all the various clubs, societies and organisations in the Sid Valley including the Youth Centre itself.  A consultation involved almost 500 young people sharing their views with us. This was a useful insight and showed us that whilst the Youth Centre provided a service that some young people needed, it was not suitable for all.

The building we use is in a poor state, costing us a lot to maintain. Surveyors, a while ago, advised us not to do major renovations as the building was at the end of its natural life. In parallel with our consultation with young people, we have been considering the best course of action for the Manstone Youth Centre building and commissioned Hayhurst architects to review options for a new building.

At a recent Council meeting the conclusions from all the studies were discussed. Although Sidmouth Town Council does not have a statutory duty to provide Youth Services, it was unanimously agreed that we should continue to make provision for young people but enhance it so that it took into account the needs and aspirations of young people, which they told us about during the consultation. Discussions about what future provision should look like are ongoing, but the commitment was made to provide services for at least five years.

With regard to the building, we were concerned about the very high ongoing maintenance costs as well as its fragile state. Given that there were other users of the centre, we wanted to ensure that we were not put into the position where we had to close it at short notice as a result of a major failure. This would have given the Youth Centre, and all the other users, a major problem as they would have to scramble around to find alternative premises. We therefore took the decision to close the building in September 2024. Ongoing discussions with other users meant that they had all considered possible relocation, which they are now pursuing over the summer, with the Town Council available to support where possible. We will arrange demolition as soon as is practical thereafter.

There has been a lot of speculation about whether we would replace the building and if so with what. The surveyor’s report clearly explained that any replacement was likely to be very expensive. Before we make any decision about a new build, we agreed we need to understand what service Sidmouth Town Council needed to provide to complement other services available in the Sid Valley. We felt it was important that the service should drive the building and not the other way around. It is possible we will need to provide a new building, but it is equally possible that existing buildings in the town might better meet the need, maybe with some modifications. Members of the Town Council have been to the Youth Centre and spoken to some of the young people who currently use the space. While they are sorry to see the Centre close, they were full of positivity about the future and had lots of interesting ideas, and we thank them for their continued enthusiasm and sharing their opinions with us.

Young people are important to our community and Sidmouth Town Council has made recent investments such as the new skatepark and the new playparks at the Ham and Long Park. Sidmouth Town Council, through its Youth Provision Working Group, are also working with Sidmouth College to support the Youth Council, and also the College Awards. The adage ‘young people are our future’ is as true as ever and the investment we make in our young people now will pay dividends in the future.