Key agreement in Sidmouth Port Royal re-development

A CRUCIAL agreement has been reached over a derelict building that holds the key to a long-awaited bid to the face of Sidmouth.

A CRUCIAL agreement has been reached over a derelict building that holds the key to a long-awaited bid to change the face of Sidmouth’s seafront.

Redevelopment of Port Royal and the town’s eastern end moved a step closer this week as East Devon District Council (EDDC) revealed a deal has been struck over the Esplanade’s controversial Drill Hall after years of negotiations.

The council says the move will hand Sidmouth’s Army Cadets and Air Training Corps a brand new base at Chambers Close, off Stowford Rise, and see the authority take over the Drill Hall.

“It would free the site for possible inclusion in any redevelopment plans that may come forward in the future,” said an EDDC spokesman.

“There has been good progress. A legal agreement between EDDC, Sidmouth Army Cadets and Sidmouth Air Training Corps has been completed.

“EDDC has now appointed a contractor to build a replacement facility at Chambers Close and it is hoped construction will commence in January 2011.

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“On hand-over of the new building, Sidmouth ACF are to transfer the title of the existing Drill Hall and site to EDDC, and the Sidmouth ATC will surrender their ground lease at Manstone.”

Champions of a Port Royal’s redevelopment have welcome the news.

“We’re extremely pleased,” said Richard Eley, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce. “This will allow the area to be re-developed, which is something almost everyone in Sidmouth agrees is a desirable outcome.”

Robert Crick, chairman of The Vison Group for Sidmouth said: “We were aware nothing could be done until that could be sorted out. Until ownership is finalised we’ve got a complicated proposal no private developer will be interested in.”

Responding to EDDC’s statement Sidmouth Army Cadets Detachment Commander Sergeant Adrian Smith said youngsters would be “delighted.”

“To have a new building and something we can call our own, we’d be over the moon,” he said “It will mean more space, more facilities, a better quality of training and hopefully more members.”