Controversial Sidmouth Fortfield Hotel plans set for ‘ok’

D-day looms

A CONTROVERSIAL bid to build 31 apartments on the site of Sidmouth’s former Fortfield Hotel is on the verge of being given the go-ahead.

Proposals that contain no holiday accommodation or ‘affordable’ homes – but do feature a �1.5million cash offer – have been recommended for approval by planning experts.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) Development Management Committee members will decide the fate of the scheme when they meet at Knowle on Tuesday afternoon. Would-be site developer ZeroC wants to construct a pair of four-storey linked apartment buildings.

If approved, construction work could begin by the end of the year and take 15 months to complete.

An EDDC officer advises the project should be granted planning permission in a report to committee members and says: “While the loss of a former hotel is regrettable, there are no planning reasons why this application should be resisted.”

The officer adds the proposed development would make a “substantial contribution” to the local economy “by returning a presently derelict site into part of the community”.

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The report states proposals, and pre-application discussions between ZeroC bosses and experts, aimed to “not only achieve a suitable and successful design of the building, but a development that contributes to the continued prosperity of Sidmouth”.

Fifty-nine people registered their opinions of plans with EDDC and 34 voiced objections that included calls for a hotel at the site and fears the loss of holiday accommodation would be ‘detrimental to the prosperity of Sidmouth’ and would set a precedent.

Detractors also branded the proposed buildings as ‘overbearing’ and expressed concerns over the impact on nearby listed properties.

Twenty-two supporters said the site was an ‘eye-sore’ that hadn’t generated income since 2006.

Officers say, if approved, developers should be told to pay �3,000 to local transport initiatives, �58,000 for education provision, �114,000 for open spaces and �1.325million on affordable housing and tourism.

- Tuesday is decision day for the Fortfield Hotel site and the Herald will be there. Find out the decision as it happens at and read next Friday’s edition for a full report and reaction.