Hugo Swire’s multi-storey ‘big vision’ for Sidmouth

Hugo Swire stock picture

Hugo Swire stock picture - Credit: Archant

MP says a holistic approach is needed to invigorate the town

A ‘brave’ new vision for Sidmouth - including multi-storey parking and affordable housing - has been put forward by East Devon’s MP.

Speaking to the Herald, Hugo Swire voiced his concerns and frustration over delays in putting together a beach management plan and said a holistic approach is needed to invigorate the town.

The Tory MP criticised district council plans to build on the Mill Street car park and has written to the authority’s chief executive with his objections. Mr Swire says the plan would do nothing to alleviate existing problems in the town.

He said: “I have been concerned for some time about the shops in the town.

“I think that, at a time when I want to see more people go into the town to do their shopping and parking is very difficult, I would be very against building in the Mill Street car park.

“Where are we displacing the traffic to, if you start building on the car park?

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“We should actually revisit doing something on the Ham car park and I think we should be brave and do a really good scheme there.

“People are put off by multi-storey car parks, but we can do a clever design that incorporates multi-storey parking and residential homes with affordable housing - which is what we need to bring people into this part of the town.

“It needs big vision. I think we need to pause and think and look at the beach management plan, the parking provision in the town and the whole Ham area as one big project.

“If you take from the back of Boots across the Ham car park, it’s a big area and it’s single-space parking in the heart of town.

“I think it’s not impossible to come up with a nice scheme, not a hideous modern complex.

“You are solving the parking issue and if we do it as one, we are really invigorating the whole of the town. I think the one thing we lack is a marina and I don’t see why we could not have one in Sidmouth - it would bring people into town.

“Again, the whole redesign of Alma Bridge and also the Drill Hall area needs to be done as one scheme.”

Mr Swire said he has been to visit residents in Cliff Road where coastal erosion is a real problem and he is pushing for the long-awaited beach management plan to be a priority.

He fears any sewage leak by Alma Bridge, or along the seafront, would be ‘disastrous’ for people in the town. Mr Swire added that people are all too ready to see any development as a loss, but believes a model detailing how a new design could work would convince most.

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