Bid to save ‘iconic’ Sidmouth seafront building

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 May 2012

Louise, Hattie, Kate, Matt, Darcie and Coco at the Sidmouth Drill Hall protesting against the council's plans to replace the derelict building with a car park. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 8218-18-12AW

Louise, Hattie, Kate, Matt, Darcie and Coco at the Sidmouth Drill Hall protesting against the council's plans to replace the derelict building with a car park. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 8218-18-12AW

Archant

YOUNG families have launched a bid to save Sidmouth’s “iconic” seafront Drill Hall from demolition.

A group of friends turned campaigners want the community to decide the fate of the 117-year-old building – and feel the bid can unite generations.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) members earmarked £48,000 to flatten the venue - branded “unsafe and unusable” - four months ago. A temporary car park was suggested for the site.

However, the authority told the Herald yesterday that there were currently “no plans” for the hall.

Campaigning pals Matt Booth, 44, and Coco Hodgkinson, 35, netted more than 160 signatures in a few days after unveiling a petition to preserve the building.

They are on the lookout for stories about the venue as part of the project. “We want the community to come together to look at an alternative use for the Drill Hall. It’s a massively iconic building,” said Matt, of Temple Street.

He hopes a plea for personal tales relating to the hall can “break down barriers” between young and old.

Coco, of Alexandria Road, fears apartments will eventually be built on the site. “It would be nice to see something put there for everybody, rather than a select few,” she said.

The prime site is viewed as a key in the regeneration of Port Royal.

EDDC took ownership of the site last year in a land swap deal that saw it spend £500,000 on a new headquarters for the Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadet Association in Chambers Close.

An EDDC spokesman said: “The long-term future of the site has not been decided, but it is proposed it should form part of a wider opportunity to re-generate this part of the seafront. In the meantime, the building will remain as it is until a planning application comes forward for an alternative use.”

Minutes of a meeting on November 30 show cabinet members resolved the hall should be demolished to avoid maintenance costs.

● Anyone who wants to sign the petition, or has a hall story, should call in at Made in Libra Court.

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