Sidmouth must ‘fight like hell’ for �1,5million

SIDMOUTH has been urged to ‘fight like hell’ to ensure a �1.5million offer from developers- intent on replacing the Fortfield Hotel with apartments- is spent solely in the town.

SIDMOUTH has been urged to ‘fight like hell’ to ensure a developer’s �1.5 million cash offer is spent solely in the town if the Fortfield Hotel is replaced by apartments.

Planning authority East Devon District Council (EDDC) has revealed the massive sum will be splashed across the region if controversial proposals are given the go-ahead.

Outgoing district councillor Chris Gibbings has called for all the money to be spent in Sidmouth, and for it to be utilised to redevelop Port Royal.

He said: “I’d hate to see that money go anywhere else. As a town, we need to start fighting now. We want it spent in Sidmouth and it’s a fight we can win. It’s up to Sidmouth councillors to fight their corner and fight it hard.”

Would-be Fortfield developer ZeroC has offered the sum to boost tourism, ‘affordable’ housing, schools and public spaces.

The firm’s plans for 31 private apartments in a designated tourism area feature no holiday accommodation or low-cost dwellings.

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“I want to keep that money in Sidmouth to redevelop Port Royal, keep the seafront going, and tidy up the East end,” said Mr Gibbings.

“We could have a really prestigious development offering employment and tourism elements there. It’s an ideal opportunity.”

Mr Gibbings’ last act as an EDDC Sidmouth Town Ward member was to register his views with the authority.

A council spokesperson said: “We can confirm this (funding) will be spent within East Devon to the benefit of the whole district, including Sidmouth.

“Speculating about the detail of how the money might be spent is premature as the application would first need to be considered and passed before any final decision was taken.”

Outgoing Sidmouth Town Council chairman and newly-elected district councillor for the town ward, Peter Sullivan, said councillors had to reserve their opinions on the planning application until official talks were held.