'Long-term plan needed for Sid Valley's younger generation'
PUBLISHED: 09:37 24 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:37 24 May 2016
'We need a more balanced community' - Cllr Matt Booth
The Sid Valley needs a ‘long-term vision’ to attract more young people and families, according to one representative.
Councillor Matt Booth said people who are going to stay in the town and have children are required as, at the moment, most in-comers are in their early 50s.
He added that younger generations are needed to help look after the older population.
“It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed,” said Cllr Booth.
“We need a more balanced community, but that is a long-term goal.”
Residents have taken to the Herald’s Facebook page to share their views on what they think the town needs.
Common suggestions included attractions such an arcade, indoor children’s play area, a tots café and a harbour. Many also highlighted issues with expensive housing and the lack of ‘affordable’ homes - with some arguing there needs to be less retirement facilities and a ban on second homes.
Sidmothian Kylie Liane Bosence felt there was nothing going on for anyone under the retirement age and that the town’s parks also need a revamp.
Robert Peckham dubbed Sidmouth a ‘ghost town’ after 5pm and on a Sunday.
Claire-louise Jinks called the area at the back of The Ham a ‘dead, sterile space’ and said something like a farmers’ or artisans’ market along The Esplanade would be a good idea.
She added: “Could it [The Ham] not be turned into an outdoor arena? A picnic area? Gardens? It’s a total waste of a large space.”
Sarah White said it would be great to have a soft play centre, adding: “It is a shame, we have to drive out of our town to go out for the day with the little ones.”
Chris Wale said: “A harbour would be fantastic if people had the foresight and the inspiration to do it.”
Sidmothian Roy Badcock, 52, disagreed with some of comments and said he could not have wished for a better place to live, work and bring up a family. He said: “Sidmouth is a wonderful place if you appreciate what we have here - a lovely beach, views to die for and a way of life other people can only ever dream of.
“You can keep the hustle and bustle of city life, thanks. I would rather live this way of life any day.”
Mr Badcock said there were plenty of clubs, activities and sports for all ages, adding: “Get those kids off those games consoles and instead get them out kicking a ball around or riding bikes with their friends - there is so much out there, from fishing and sailing to cricket, rugby and football clubs, plus the scouts and cadets.”
Piers Edwards made the point that, when the weather was bad, it was harder to find things to do, which is why he backed the idea of an indoor soft play area.
Mother-of-two Claire Bright, who has lived in Sidmouth for 21 years, reiterated Mr Badcock’s points, arguing that there was an endless list of things to do - including everything from rugby, football, cricket, golf and dance clubs to sailing, swimming, gym tots, the beach, The Byes, the youth theatre, beavers, cubs, scouts, brownies and guides, as well as the youth club and sports centre.
“My boys went to something most days,” she added.
Katrina Lort said priority needed to be given to the townsfolk wanting starter properties, so homes could not be snapped up as holiday and second homes.
“We always have to travel to find anywhere half decent for the kids to play… I think the town has been relying on the fact we have a beach for too long,” added Mrs Lort.
An East Devon District Council spokeswoman said it understood there was a range of concerns about the future needs for all the generations living in Sidmouth.
She added that the adopted Local Plan and the emerging Neighbourhood Plan would provide a framework for discussing such concerns.
“We shouldn’t downplay the many positive opportunities that already exist within the town for all age groups,” said the spokeswoman.