Shock change of plan for Drill Hall
- Credit: Archant
SIDMOUTH’S Drill Hall has been granted a stay of execution in response to calls from campaigners to save the seafront building from demolition and refurbish it for community use.
East Devon District Council bosses say they will give residents, led by Matt Booth – who last week revealed conceptual drawings of what could happen to the premises – a chance to buy the building.
A council spokesman told the Herald as it went to press yesterday (Thursday): “In light of the ongoing interest being shown, we have decided to withdraw the application [for demolition].
“This will give Mr Booth and his associates a chance to properly investigate the financial viability of their idea without the threat of immediate demolition hanging over the building.
“We have made Mr Booth aware of the rigours of the process to be followed in order for a successful bid to be made. During the summer, the group will be able to investigate obtaining the funds to acquire the site. We will review the situation in the autumn and decide whether to put the site on the open market, thus allowing the group to bid.”
In the short term, the council’s intention had been to demolish the hall and allow boat parking on the levelled site. Around £11,000 was spent on removing asbestos in December.
The spokesman added: “We are aware of a variety of competing views regarding the future for the Port Royal area.
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“The Drill Hall site is an important part of that area. If a financially viable and workable proposal needs time to be prepared, then the demolition proposal can be suspended.
“If, come the autumn, the community group indicates that it has access to appropriate funds, we will consider them within the wider interest in Port Royal’s future design and development as a whole.”