Report on renewal of Port Royal unlikely before next year

The Sidmouth Lifeboat station, sailing club and Drill Hall at Port Royal

The Sidmouth Lifeboat station, sailing club and Drill Hall at Port Royal - Credit: Archant

A report on the potential redevelopment of a sensitive site on Sidmouth seafront will not be made public until next year.

The delay in publication of the scoping study document is because the consultant has requested more time to consider residents’ views and those of the Port Royal reference group – which concluded that a single large building would be ‘entirely inappropriate’ for the location.

The study was commissioned by Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council. A spokesman said: “There was a robust and frank debate and the reference group members clearly reflected the strength of public opinion – expressed through the public consultation and the recent Neighbourhood Plan report – that a single large and high building covering the seafront footprint at Port Royal would be entirely inappropriate for this sensitive site.

“There was a strongly held view that commercial benefits could be achieved whilst still meeting community aspirations, as well as realising benefits for Sidmouth’s economy and tourism. Further options needed to be examined.

“Having heard the debate and views of the reference group in connection with the draft, the consultant has requested further time to refine the study report and in particular to detail recommendations about further investigations in respect of flooding and covenants.

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“The final report will be considered by the councils jointly, at which time it will be made public. Given the request from the consultant, the report will not meet November council meeting deadlines, but it is expected that this will come forward early in the new year.”

Reference group chairman Councillor Jeff Turner thanked its members and their respective organisations for their participation and thanked the public for their input.

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Cllr Cathy Gardner, who jointly led the ‘Three Rs’ campaign to retain, refurbish and re-use existing buildings at Port Royal, said: “I’m delighted that the reference group has reacted to the views of residents and the consultant will reconsider their recommendations.

“The redevelopment of this area of town is important to all of us and a chance to do something wonderful for the town.

“The Three Rs campaign group will be working to encourage a community-based solution that makes the most of the heritage of the area without over-commercialisation.”

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