Altered designs for Sidmouth flats win support but original design was ‘far superior’

St John Ambulance Hall in Sidmouth. Ref shs 1997-03-16SH. Photo Simon Horn

St John Ambulance Hall in Sidmouth. Ref shs 1997-03-16SH. Photo Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Altered plans to build eight apartments, instead of 10, in Sidmouth’s town centre have won the town council’s backing - despite claims the original design was ‘far superior’.

Sidmouth Town Council’s planning committee met last Wednesday (January 23) to discuss revised plans to demolish the town’s St John Ambulance Hall to make way for eight flats and eight parking spaces.

Developers had previously won support from members for 10 apartments and parking spaces.

The application has reduced the number of storeys from three to two and the internal floor space from 904sqm to 790sqm.

Councillor Marc Kilsbie said he continued to support the application as there was a desperate need for town flats but said the original design was ‘far superior’ to what was now submitted.

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He said: “They have reduced the amount of flats and changed the design, now I understand why they have done it.

“I did find it far superior and a lot cleaner, a lot tidier,

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“I just liked it better.

“On planning grounds I have no reason to object.”

He added that the original design gave a good guideline should there be further development in the area in future.

Cllr Jeff Turner said he thought the original proposal used the land better but was disappointed due to the reduction in flats, the council would not receive any Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding.

He said: “The new one is still quite acceptable and provides more parking and more generous parking so I don’t think there are any arguments with the new one.

“I am disappointed we will lose some CIL money, that was another good reason. “

The hall has been empty since October 2016 after St John Ambulance made a decision to close a number of its halls.

Sidmouth Methodist Church raised an objection to the original planning application as one of its window would be shielded by the development.

In a letter to planning officers, members of the methodist church said they welcomed the amended plans to remove the upper storey and reduced the obstruction of daylight to the church office and hall.

Concerns remained about increased pollution and noise.

East Devon District Council will decide whether to approve or reject the application at a future date.

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