‘Quick fix would cheapen appearance of Sidmouth conservation area’

One of the offending paving slabs in Fore Street, Sidmouth

One of the offending paving slabs in Fore Street, Sidmouth - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders have opposed a ‘quick fix’ option to repair a Sidmouth street they fear would ‘cheapen’ the appearance of the conservation area.

Town councillors were debating Devon County Council’s (DCC) plans to replace a stretch of paving slabs - that frequently cause trip hazards - with tarmac in Fore Street.

There have been numerous complaints about the state of the pavement and reports of injuries, including broken limbs.

Councillor Frances Newth said: “This is a conservation area. We have to think whether it’s acceptable to have black tarmac replacing slabs. We don’t want a quick fix. We have to really scrutinise and look at what alternatives there are.”

The western side of Fore Street, from the junction with Old Fore Street to New Street, is set to be resurfaced. A DCC officer said doing so will eliminate the potential for trip hazards on the walkway.

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Cllr John Rayson said: “I think this [tarmac] is a good solution. Paving slabs are dangerous – people always seem to be falling off them. It’s not just Fore Street that’s bad. The whole of the town centre ought to be considered.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon’s highways chief, said: “We’ve put tarmac in up the High Street, outside Tesco, and not had any problems there.

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“With the number of people hurting themselves on the pavements, it will pay dividends to get the work done.”

Cllr Paul Wright said: “If we’re going to do it, it has to be aesthetically pleasing across the town. A bit here and there is going to make the town look really ugly.”

Cllr Louise Cole said: “We got overwhelming consultation responses [in the Neighbourhood Plan] about the need to improve the look over the urban landscape and preserve Sidmouth’s character. We must be able to negotiate how this is resolved.”

Town council chairman Cllr Ian McKenzie-Edwards closed the debate saying: “There are much more attractive materials than black tarmac. I would propose that we don’t accept it. It doesn’t accord with the conservation area. It’s important to the character of Sidmouth and must not be eroded.”

Members voted to back Cllr McKenzie-Edwards’s proposal.

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