More delays for SES work

The former SES shop on Sidmouth High Street. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 9086-02-14SH. To order you

The former SES shop on Sidmouth High Street. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 9086-02-14SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to - Credit: Archant

A businessman, eager to make the ‘eyesore’ SES premises a building Sidmouth can be proud of, says he is still battling district chiefs – a year after he bought it.

Work is underway clearing the SES building

Work is underway clearing the SES building - Credit: Archant

With walls, floors, ceilings and windows all in need of replacement, work is well under way behind the scenes in the long-empty High Street property.

But the owner, who spoke out on the condition of anonymity, said the changes to the shop front are being delayed by East Devon District Council (EDDC) – despite him removing many of the contentious elements from the plans.

“It’s still not been dealt with,” he said. “It’s so disgraceful – no-one I speak to can believe it. You can’t fight local authorities.”

The businessman said he was ‘very disappointed’ to still not have a decision, even though the planners had taken ‘100 per cent longer than they said they would’.

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He is still waiting, but is cracking on with work that does not need planning permission.

A construction crew is already on site and scaffolding is scheduled to be erected to repair the roof on the 140-year-old property.

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After a decade vacant, the walls and floors are rotting, water is pouring in.

And all the while the owner is facing a £12,000 annual bill in business rates.

“It’s far more work than I ever envisaged. It’s just a shell,” said the owner.

“I want it to be the best looking building in the town.”

The businessman submitted revised plans in July that removed proposals to add a lift shaft, divide the first and second floors into two flats and move the door to its historical position.

If he does get the approval he needs, he is hopeful of the shop being ready by Christmas – and already has a potential tenant lined up.

He intends to house his mother in the flat above. The owner had hoped his father could also live there but, sadly, he died last year.

An EDDC spokeswoman there had been delays on both sides, but the planning team is preparing a report and a decision should be made around mid-September.

She added: “We recognise the importance of this prominent High Street building in Sidmouth and are committed to working with the owner to address this.

“It has been a dilapidated eyesore for too long.”

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