‘Infrastructure could support Devon’s flat-lining tourism industry’

PUBLISHED: 15:54 13 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:54 13 January 2017

A view west along Sidmouth shoreline. Ref shs 18-16SH 0065. Picture: Simon Horn.

A view west along Sidmouth shoreline. Ref shs 18-16SH 0065. Picture: Simon Horn.

Archant

Protecting Sidmouth’s beach, new cycle links and replacing Alma Bridge topped an infrastructure ‘wish list’ for the town council.

Members this week criticised the lack of ‘joined-up thinking’ in East Devon District Council’s infrastructure delivery plan (IDP), but used its first review to press for new projects.

They also called for clarity on how different items were prioritised and where the rest of the funding will come from – with only five per cent of the £12million total accounted for when the document was drafted in 2015.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, town council chairman Jeff Turner said: “This is really a wish list that could improve living standards and quality of life.”

He said a proposed £500,000 ‘park and change’ system would boost tourism by alleviating traffic issues, although members questioned where it would be located. He also argued that that the Manstone Lane youth centre is falling down and should be replaced. Councillor Kelvin Dent said the IDP felt like ‘a dustbin for things the council forgot about’ in the Local Plan and it lacked details such as where a £750,000 new gym would be sited in the town centre, where 50 ‘extra care’ beds would be located, and where the estimated £8million will come from to pay for them.

Of the £12million total for projects in Sidmouth, £11.4million remained unaccounted for when the IDP was drafted in March last year.

The items included were given three different levels of priority based on their importance to delivering the aims set out in the Local Plan.

Cllr Dent said a £1million new access to the Alexandria Industrial Estate should be given a higher priority – especially after the refusal of plans for a 9.3-acre business park outside Sidford – and that a cycle link between Sidmouth and Sidbury should be added to the IDP.

Cllr Simon Pollentine said repeated reports had shown that tourism in Devon is ‘flatlining’ and Sidmouth needs to invest in its main industry. He backed calls for investment in new cycle routes – the IDP includes a link between Sidmouth and Feniton that will cost an estimated £100,000 per kilometre – and said Alma Bridge, which forms part of the South West Coastal Footpath, should also feature.

Cllr Ian Barlow said EDDC needs to crack down on developers if it is going to deliver ‘even a tenth’ of the proposed projects. He said it is too easy for them to dodge ‘section 106’ payments or the community infrastructure levy that would fund them.

Cllr Barlow also called for Sidmouth’s ongoing beach management plan to be included in the IDP.

Cllr Louise Cole asked for clarity about how the document was drafted and how it fits with the Local Plan.

Other schemes in the IDP, listed in last week’s Herald, include £700,000 to extend existing buildings at Sidmouth College, £500,000 for similar work at Sidmouth Primary School and a £600,000 masterplan for Port Royal.


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