Graham shares alternative vision for Port Royal

Graham Cooper's proposals for Port Royal.

Graham Cooper's proposals for Port Royal. - Credit: Archant

An architect who fears the redevelopment of Port Royal could result in ‘cultural cleansing’ has laid out his own vision for the site.

Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council (EDDC) have released a preliminary idea that shows the lifeboat station, sailing club and other facilities incorporated into a single building that could stand five storeys high.

Graham Cooper’s alternative vision – created in a personal capacity – is to build on what is there, rather than ‘destroy’ Sidmouth’s heritage as a fishing town and block views of the sea.

Mr Cooper, who entered an architecture competition last year to ‘re-imagine’ Port Royal, said: “In everybody’s mind, five storeys is too large. EDDC might say that it’s just an idea, but that’s what it’s put into the public domain as a ‘proposal’. It’s not ‘scaremongering’ to suggest it’s almost like a Trojan horse.

“The consultants are only proposing to include community assets that are already there. It doesn’t add anything, except holiday apartments.

“We want other options. An alternative would be to make incremental changes – to refurbish and repurpose what’s there.

“A lot of people have said there should be a performance area, but we already have the Drill Hall.

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“The fishing area is a piece of history. That fishing compound is what eastern town used to be like.

“A big building is a form of cultural cleansing – it’s clearing out the heritage that is there. You shouldn’t destroy things unless you have a better solution.”

Mr Cooper proposed adding a further floor and balcony to the sailing club, with canopies extending over the boat yard and to the east of the Drill Hall linking it to the toilets.

The maximum height would be below that of Trinity Court, the four-storey block adjacent.

Mr Cooper added: “I think the Drill Hall would make a great flexible event space, café and bar, with a gallery in the basement shooting range.

“The top floor added to the sailing club would make a fabulous fish restaurant!”

In response, Sidmouth Town Council and EDDC said in a joint statement: “We are currently consulting on the findings of the independent consultants and we must stress that there are no proposals, no plans and no schemes currently being put forward.

“We are delighted to have so far received 159 responses to the consultation and responses are welcome from the public up to the closing date of Monday, July 31.”

Visit to complete the consultation.

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