Group's views to be heard

Proposals by the Vision Group to regenerate Port Royal will be considered by the district council.

Proposals by the Vision Group to regenerate Port Royal will be considered by the district council.This follows its demand for parity consideration with the proposals of private developer Rowan Carter to redevelop the site in tandem with a controversial 185-berth marina jutting out into the sea.The group's views, virtually ignored by the council since it lodged its report l5 months ago, will be presented next Wednesday to the council's executive, which will also consider the Carter concepts."We are delighted that at long last our voice on behalf of the local community is to be heard," said chairman Robert Crick.A further meeting will be held with Karime Hassan, the council's corporate director, environment, to define the group's Port Royal planning brief to include a large flexible performance space, an art gallery, a relocated museum and educational facilities.It specifically excludes residential apartments and insists on a high quality development that complements existing architecture.This week the Sid Vale Association welcomed any regeneration that benefits the town."As a modern holiday resort, any development of the Port Royal area is desirable," said SVA chairman Handel Bennett. "This could include various alternative schemes, as suggested by the Vision Group, and might include a marina though, due to its unique location, any development must, in our opinion, be subject to widespread local consultation with all interested parties."It was too early, however, to either endorse or oppose the proposals because the SVA would need to see more details. Meanwhile, the marina's official website saw another ten boat owners join the 75 provisional bookings already made for a berth. More comments, for and against, were also filed on line, with one from Sidmouth saying a marina would give the town a new dimension.It added: "I am a local and I remember the boating end of the esplanade being so much busier, a great focal point."But another resident said it was too ambitious and not compatible with the ambience of the town."We do not want additional and excessive commercialisation of this tranquil town," the resident said.Councillor Stuart Hughes said a marina would detract from Sidmouth's unique charm."They should look for somewhere like Seaton where the relief road around the town to the seafront could cope with the traffic," he said. "Mr Carter says it would be a golden opportunity for the town. Not in my eyes it isn't. Perhaps he sees a lot of pound signs that I don't. I think it would drive people away and be the ruination of Sidmouth."Mr Carter and his planning consultant, Janine Banks, insisted in a statement that, while he was looking for commercial success, his interest was not just about money."It is right to say our vision for Port Royal and the marina is one of high quality regeneration which will bring new life and vitality to Sidmouth," the statement said."There is a real excitement and enthusiasm about this project. We are looking forward to the views of the council executive and the opportunity of working with everyone in articulating a common vision for the future of the town.

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