Councils scoping out future of Port Royal

A view of the eastern end of the town. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7858-10-09SH

A view of the eastern end of the town. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7858-10-09SH - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth representatives will lead the way on a comprehensive background study on the renewal of Port Royal.

Town councillors will have support from East Devon District Council (EDDC), the other major land owner – but both have recognised the commercial challenges and amount of work required.

The area – allocated 50 homes in the Local Plan – could be transformed into a mixed-use space, although the regeneration will likely require private investment.

In a statement, town council chairman Jeff Turner said: “I am delighted that with the support of EDDC, we will now, as a very first step, commission work that will scope out a complex exercise of consultation, planning, costing and design.

“Local people and local organisations – some of whom have spent a great deal of their time pressing the case for Port Royal renewal – will be key to this collaborative process.”

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EDDC deputy chief executive Richard Cohen added: “Good proposals, which are innovative as well as practically and financially possible, will be critical to the success of Port Royal’s development.

“Throughout the process, there will be a clear focus on consultation and collaboration with local people, businesses and organisations, to ensure that any future development is achieved with their understanding.

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“The improvements that this scheme will bring about will help maintain Sidmouth as one of the UK’s premier seaside resorts.”

But concerns were voiced at Monday’s town council meeting.

Councillor Ian McKenzie-Edwards said: “A lot of funding in Seaton came from Tesco. OK, it funded Seaton Jurassic, but two of the businesses it replaced were in tourism. Seaton is at a pretty low ebb. Tesco is a hell of a way of getting funding.”

Cllr Louise Cole welcomed the opportunity to regenerate eastern town, but said: “There’s a massive issue of trust between EDDC and the community.

“People are very concerned their voices aren’t heard. The two latest developments [the Knowle redevelopment and plans for a business park in Sidford] have reaffirmed that. People are extremely angry.”

Cllr Turner countered that people had always been cynical and it was up to the councils to try to involve them in the process.

Mr Cohen expects the £10,000 project to be completed by mid-November, with a decision on the next step before Christmas.

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