Seafront project is a ‘golden opportunity’ for Sidmouth

Sidmouth, Port Royal. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 0934-03-12AW

Sidmouth, Port Royal. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 0934-03-12AW - Credit: Archant

Tenants will be kept updated every step of the way in a preliminary project to regenerate Port Royal, a new group has decided.

Landowners Sidmouth Town Council (STC) and East Devon District Council (EDDC) are together conducting a scoping study and will be commissioning experts to appraise the area.

The authorities have pulled together valley organisations and Devon County Council to form a reference group that will ‘act as a bridge’ between the expert consultants, the stakeholders and the wider public.

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan Group, the Sid Vale Association, Vision Group for Sidmouth and Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce are all represented.

Councillor Jeff Turner, who chairs the reference group and the town council, said: “We have a good representation of the major bodies from the town on this group who have shown historic leadership and a keen interest in the future of Port Royal.

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“With the help of our experts, the study will provide us with information on the constraints and opportunities for the area with options and how viable they are.

“This will help us move forward toward a detailed vision for the area.

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“Sidmouth is one of the best coastal towns in England and, with land being in public ownership, this is a golden opportunity to look at ways of renewing the eastern gateway to the town, ensuring that it is both enhanced and protected.”

Cllr Turner stressed that no decisions have been made about the future of the area.

“The scoping study is the start of a process that will involve detailed visioning for the area that will inform decisions in the future,” he said.

“The study is likely to take three to four months to complete and during this time consultants will carry out consultation both with tenants and members of various clubs as well as our residents and businesses.

“Wherever possible, we will work together with Sidmouth’s organisations to ensure that consultation is carried out in a coordinated way.”

The reference group decided it will involve existing work already carried out on Port Royal, and send out communication to tenants to update them after every meeting.

Potential funding opportunities with the Coastal Communities Fund or the Heritage Lottery will also be explored so that opportunities to enhance and protect the area can be maximised.

STC and EDDC will be starting the tendering process for consultants to carry out the scoping study in the next few weeks.

Once appointed, it is expected that the consultants will start work in the New Year, which will include regular interaction with the reference group.

The consultants will provide expert opinion on what kind of redevelopment would be potentially viable for Port Royal and will be asked specifically about how they will consult the community during this first stage of the process.

They will also identify the boundaries and ownership of the area and the needs of existing occupants.

The group is expecting to meet again in January.

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