New campsite and venue is 'biggest change' in Sidmouth FolkWeek history

PUBLISHED: 11:55 25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:55 25 October 2013

This land on Slacombe Hill has been earmarked as the new FolkWeek campsite

This land on Slacombe Hill has been earmarked as the new FolkWeek campsite

© Paul Clayden 2013

Event will leave its current Bulverton base - landmark move planned for 60th annivesary in 2014

FOLKWEEK bosses have revealed an ambition to make the biggest change in the festival’s history – by utilising a beauty spot for a new campsite and venue. The mooted move would see the event leave its long-standing Bulverton base for a 13-acre site on Salcombe Hill that would be home to tents, caravans and a music and dance hub.

Organisers, who want to expand and improve what the week of festivites has to offer, hope the planned swap will become a reality in time for FolkWeek’s 60th anniversary next summer.

Applications were this week submitted for necessary permissions, including details of access to and from the town using dedicated transport.

Festival chiefs have vowed to consult residents, authorities, landowners and suppliers. A final decision will be made before Christmas.

“It’s a landmark change,” FolkWeek director John Braithwaite told the Herald. “We’ve been at Bulverton for as long as I know, in excess of 30 years.

“This is a big, big move for us. Nothing is signed or sealed. A lot of consultation will be done.

“We plan things with our customers and the people of the valley in mind.”

It is proposed the town council-owned Salcombe Recreational Field becomes home to a new venue with neighbouring land - between that site and the Norman Lockyer Observatory - used for camping.

The plot will have capacity for ‘as many caravans as needed’ - and Mr Braithwaite said around 250 were expected.

He added there would also be ‘enough camping for anybody who would like to come’. The current Buverton site can take around 1,000 tents.

“We’ll know by Christmas if we are going to move in time for our 60th anniversary [in 2014],” said Mr Braithwaite. “It would be great if we could launch a new site.

“This unlocks one of the constraints we currently have. It will definitely provide us with comparable facilities to any other festivals.

“It is a very, very pretty site [on Salcombe Hill].”

He added the new venue would be the ‘same size as the Bulverton clubhouse with a different format’.

“We’ll make it a centre for people to come from the campsite and from outside - there will be a buzz about it,” said Mr Braithwaite.

A FolkWeek spokeswoman described the proposal as ‘the most significant potential infrastructure development in the event’s history’.

She said the combined camping and caravan facility and dance venue were in a ‘stunning location’, adding: “The proposed site would offer a great new location for the out-of-town festival events and visitor accommodation, while keeping the beating heart of the festival in the town.”

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