�4million Sidmouth hotel revamp gets go-ahead

‘Yes’ to revised Westcliff plans

REVISED proposals for a �4million revamp of Sidmouth’s Westcliff Hotel have been given the go-ahead after fears were expressed it could become ‘another Fortfield’.

District council officers have approved new blueprints for single-storey extensions, to increase available accommodation, and eight residential apartments.

Owners of the Manor Road venue had to draw up alternative plans as they feared their original scheme – granted permission in February 2011 - would leave the business shut for up to 18 months - which would have “dire” consequences.

Nicolas James Group has signed a legal agreement stating �450,000 must be invested in the hotel before the first occupancy of the apartments.

Correspondence from the applicant to East Devon District Council (EDDC) revealed: “The property is in dire need of further investment to ensure it remains a viable and competitive hotel.

“If permission is granted, we’ll need to invest in the region of �4.1million to upgrade the hotel, including refurbishment and structural repairs and a new spa and swimming pool.

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“The existing permission (from February 2011) will require the demolition of a large area of bar and lounge area, which together with the disruption and impact upon trading, would inevitably lead to the closure of the hotel.

“You have received a great number of letters of support which wish to see the future of the hotel secured rather than follow a similar fate to the Fortfield (Hotel).”

The owner offered to sign a legal agreement which secures refurbishment of and substantial investment in the hotel prior to the apartments being occupied.

“This will ensure that the apartments directly secure the future of the hotel and give the council the assurance that we are committed to the long-term future of the Westcliff,” read the letter.

An EDDC officer approved plans and said: “The future viability of the hotel has been questioned, should the current proposal not go ahead.

“It is considered that the retention of hotels is a very important priority within the town in order to support the local economy.”

The officer added that, while there was “concern the impact of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area”, viability issues and the mooted legal agreement swayed the decision.

EDDC received 70 letters of support for the scheme and no objections.

Altered plans won the backing of district ward members for the area - who said such a scheme in a prime location would boost town trade from tourists.