“Bloated” fears over Sidmouth Fortfield Hotel designs

DESIGNS to transform Sidmouth’s Fortfield Hotel have been branded “bloated and overbearing” by some residents.

DESIGNS to transform Sidmouth’s Fortfield Hotel have been branded “bloated and overbearing” in a resident’s report.

Graham Cooper, who worked in architectural design and planning for 30 years, fears a mooted block of 40 apartments would be “out of proportion” with its historic surroundings.

He is concerned a new building’s ‘volume’ could be nearly double that of the under-demolition hotel premises.

Mr Cooper’s opinion comes in the week that the boss of hopeful developer ZeroC told the Herald proposals will be changed for a second time following public feedback.

Kim Slowe said revised designs, with “slight” changes to elevations, size and articulation, will be showcased on a website set to be launched next week.

“We’ve been listening to people. The building is slightly changing to address concerns. It’s all very positive, we’re making good progress on all fronts,” said Mr Slowe.

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Mr Cooper, a town resident of 14 years and member of the Vision Group for Sidmouth, was so interested in designs ZeroC unveiled for the Fortifeld, earlier this month, that he compiled a report on such a building’s potential impact.

Fortfield Terrace resident Jo Frith used ‘sketch up’ computer technology to see what impact apartments might have on the surrounding area as part of the document.

Giving his personal opinion, Mr Cooper said he calculated an apartment block’s ‘footprint’ could be 14 per cent larger than the former Fortfield Hotel, and its total volume could increase by 46 per cent.

His conclusion labels the apartment block “bloated” and “out of proportion with its historic surroundings.”

Mr Cooper claims that five stories of accommodation, including penthouse flats, could increase the existing floor area in that specific space by 90per cent.

“I think it’s out of scale with the town,” he said.

“We can see it is a very deep plan. It seems to me it will be the largest single building in Sidmouth- in terms of volume.”

ZeroC managing director Mr Slowe said this month the firm hopes to create a building that will become ‘listed’ in 100 years and would complement the surrounding area. He added designs were in the ‘footprint’ of the original building and their height was mainly the same.

l TELL us what you would like to see happen to the Fortfield Hotel site. Write a letter to the editor or e-mail stefan.gordon@archant.co.uk.