Land joy in Sidmouth community centre bid

PUBLISHED: 15:00 03 December 2010

THE piece of land which will house a long-awaited £1million Sidmouth community centre has been handed to the town- a move civic leaders hope will ward off developers for decades to come.

THE piece of land which will house a long-awaited £1 million Sidmouth community centre has been handed to the town - a move civic leaders hope will ward off developers for decades to come.

District council chiefs have signed over the Stowford Rise plot to their town council counterparts who will, in turn, lease it to community centre driving forces for more than a century.

“It’s a safeguard for the land,” Sidmouth Town Council chairman Peter Sullivan told the Herald.

“We have control in the future regarding any development. Knowing it is in the hands of the local council, no-one will be able to do anything there unless we give permission for it.

“It’s a very positive thing. It means we keep control of a community asset we’ve fought to get for 26 years.

“You wouldn’t want someone to come along saying ‘will you sell to the highest bidder?’. That will not happen now.

“It is seen as a community centre for the whole of the town, so, it was thought the land should go to the town council. Financially it makes no difference at all. It is an asset they (EDDC) have given to us at no cost. We’re quite happy to take it on.”

The community centre, which will feature an 180 square metre hall, kitchen, community room and self-contained children’s centre, is expected to be finished in August 2011.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said a transfer of the Stowford Rise site to the town council was in place.

A spokesman added a head lease had been drafted on behalf of Sidmouth Town Council to then lease the land to the Stowford Rise Community Centre Community Interest Company (CIC) for 125 years. The CIC is made up of local residents and councillors.

He said a 50-year sub-lease had also been drawn up with Devon County Council for the children’s centre. The spokesman added the agreements would not come into effect until the centre was built.

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