EDDC throw out marina

The controversial proposal for a marina off Port Royal at Sidmouth was firmly rejected by East Devon District Council this week.

The controversial proposal for a marina off Port Royal at Sidmouth was firmly rejected by East Devon District Council this week.Concerns over public safety, increased traffic, the squeeze on parking and, above all, the impact on the town's unique character, all weighed heavily on the decision by the executive.It decided, instead, to pursue negotiations to acquire the Drill Hall and, in partnership with the town council, prepare a planning brief for the future redevelopment of the blighted Port Royal and Ham Lane area.This could eventually lead to the site being put up for sale.The decision to ditch the marina proposal was clearly a disappointment for developer Rowan Carter who considered that, in tandem with the redevelopment of Port Royal, it represented a golden opportunity, adding an entirely new dimension to Sidmouth's tourist trade.Support from the executive would have been the 'green light' he sought for a public display of a model and plan, prior to a planning application.But the council's economy portfolio holder, Councillor Peter Halse, made it clear that, having carefully considered all the representations, not least the serious concerns raised by mariners about public and marine safety, the council saw no future in a facility to moor boats offshore in a location so openly exposed to bad weather."It was not a wobbly decision," he told the Herald. "The executive was very firmly of the view that a marina was not an option. "I believe it would run into huge problems and I certainly had my doubts whether Sidmouth could accommodate such a project." Nevertheless, despite the rejection, it was still up to Mr Carter to file a planning application if he so wished.His planning consultant, Janine Banks, said in a statement: "We will look forward to further discussions with the council to see where we are now and how we can go forward."Councillor Halse said a planning brief would be a new beginning for the area, with the widest public consultation welcomed from all interested parties, including the Vision Group, which had already put up good ideas."It will take some time because we do believe in consultation," said Councillor Halse. 'Private developers'"We will prepare the brief for the area; we have enough money for that. "But we cannot develop it ourselves. We would put it up for private developers to progress, but we will be in the driving seat. "What we don't want is some monstrosity, some carbuncle. That would be a price too far. I would like to see a mixed development, not something that is a developer's paradise or a resident's nightmare, not a huge block of flats but something that is good for Sidmouth which is a very special place, unique in the West of England."Robert Crick, chairman of the Vision Group, welcomed the decision."It reflects the representations we have made," he said. "I know some people will be disappointed. But, after a very frustrating year in which our suggestions were ignored, we now have a wonderful opportunity to come up with a development that does justice to Sidmouth."There was disappointment, however, from marina supporters.Mark Seward, president of the Sidmouth and District Hospitality Association, felt it was a "great opportunity" for the town."But I am not surprised it has been rejected," he added. "Obviously, it required a lot of investigation, but a planning brief is a very positive step for an area so important for the town's future."Chris Taylor, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, which supported the marina, was also disappointed."We saw a marina as an opportunity for the town. I just hope that in the years ahead it will not be seen as another lost opportunity."His view was shared by Charles Lodge, owner of the Libra Court shops complex."I think it's a tragedy. A marina would have enhanced Sidmouth and put new life into the town. It is a great, great shame that opportunity has been lost.

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