Sea view highlights disappearance of Sidmouth’s cliffs

Sidmouth's eastern cliffs this month. Charles Lodge.

Sidmouth's eastern cliffs this month. Charles Lodge. - Credit: Archant

The emergence of this ‘marvellous’ sea view highlights the ‘somewhat worrying’ reality of Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs, according to the man who took the photograph.

A view of the cliffs in April, 2008. Picture: Charles Lodge.

A view of the cliffs in April, 2008. Picture: Charles Lodge. - Credit: Archant

Charles Lodge, of Libra Court, has compared the image to one taken eight year ago – and says the comparison shows just how much of Pennington Point has disappeared.

“With the debate continuing about the future of the Drill Hall and the development of the Ham and eastern part of Sidmouth town, I thought the interested parties should look at these photos before they put forward their different ideas to the public,” said Mr Lodge.

“These photos were taken from our property just under eight years apart - April 2008 and January 2016. It is obvious for all to see how much of the cliff has disappeared. If you focus on the two lampposts by the fishing boats, then the loss is quite incredible to see.

“When we moved into our property in 1993, there was no sea view at all. In 2008, we had a glimpse between the cliff-face and the edge of the Drill Hall.

Pennington Point has taken a battering in recent weeks. Picture: Eve Mathews.

Pennington Point has taken a battering in recent weeks. Picture: Eve Mathews. - Credit: Archant

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“Today, we have a marvellous view to Branscombe and beyond. Whilst for us a sea view is an obvious attraction, the reality of the situation is somewhat worrying.

“For years there has been talk about protection for Pennington Point and nothing whatsoever has happened.

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“When will our councillors get on top of the case and...think of protection of our heritage and our residents’ interests.”

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is currently leading a multi-agency bid to formulate a Beach Management Plan (BMP) for Sidmouth.

It is hoped the project will identify a scheme which can protect the eroding shoreline.

In its most recent development in December, EDDC revealed how experts working on the BMP have weighed up the costs and benefits of a long list of different possible options, including removing rock groynes from the main beach, raising the height of the wall along The Esplanade, or doing nothing.

The initial assessment also takes into account any environmental and regeneration issues and will be presented to the BMP’s steering group before it meets on January 15.

The group, which is made up of representatives from the various organisations involved in the project, will then give its feedback and help whittle down the possible options into a shortlist.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, steering group chairman, said last month: “We are very pleased to be making such good progress towards selecting and implementing new measures that will ultimately protect Sidmouth homes, businesses and infrastructure from coastal flooding and erosion, as well as protecting beach amenities and assets from the effects of rising sea levels and storm conditions.”

The potential regeneration of Port Royal is also the focus of several, separate projects.

EDDC last week agreed to carry out a £10,000 ‘scoping exercise’ for the area in partnership with the town council.

Sidmouth Town Council is also taking the first steps towards compiling a Neighbourhood Plan for the entire parish.

And completely separate from those projects, Sidmouth-born architect Henry Beech Mole has launched Re-imagining Port Royal.

The competition will see the best entries – which he hopes will come from across the globe – exhibited in Sidmouth this summer. The first stage is a questionnaire for residents, the results of which will be used to formulate a brief for the designers.

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