FORTFIELD: Sidmouth's fight for £1.5million

PUBLISHED: 11:24 28 November 2011

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Archant

SIDMOUTH representatives have vowed to fight until the final minute for £1.5million up for grabs after a developer was given the go-ahead to replace an historic hotel with homes.

Town ward district councillors fear their own authority will splash a huge community cash settlement - from the transformation of the former Fortfield Hotel site - across East Devon. One fears Sidmouth might not even benefit from half of the money.

ZeroC will begin building 31 apartments in March. Eighty-eight per cent of the developer’s cash is to compensate for the absence of tourism and ‘affordable’ housing elements in its scheme.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) Cabinet members are set to determine how the money will be spent in January.

Sidmouth councillors Sheila Kerridge, Frances Newth and Peter Sullivan are concerned other areas will get a slice of the funding.

“It’s doubtful we’ll get the full amount,” said Councillor Kerridge.

“I’m concerned we won’t get the lion’s share. It could be less than 50per cent.

“We’re going to lobby until the last minute trying to get a good proportion for Sidmouth. It’s due to us.”

Cllr Newth said: “We want to see as much of the money as possible benefit of our community – and that’s what we’ll fight for. Sidmouth needs to be compensated.”

Cllr Sullivan added: “There are different people within East Devon looking at that money. It’s a substantial amount.”

Planning permission was issued to ZeroC after the firm agreed to hand over £1.325million towards affordable housing and tourism, and £114,000 for open space provision – all district council issues.

A £58,000 contribution towards education provision and £3,000 for local transport initiatives – county council matters – will also be made.

An EDDC spokesman said: “At this time we’re not in a position to speculate on how members may want to spend the money.”

He added funds would come forward in three equal instalments as the development progresses, and it “might be a while” until all of the money has been paid.

The council said in May that the cash would be spent “to benefit the whole district”.

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