Sidmouth Port Royal development hope

COMMUNITY representatives tasked with a crucial project, key to the re-development of Sidmouth’s Port Royal, have revealed details of the bid for the first time.

MEMBERS of the group tasked with a crucial project, key to the redevelopment of Sidmouth’s Port Royal, have revealed details of their work for the first time.

The news comes as the authority that handed ‘power to the people’ – because it couldn’t produce a long-awaited development brief for the site – said it has yet to receive “a commercially viable plan”.

The Herald reported in October 2009 how East Devon District Council (EDDC) gave the go-ahead for a steering group made up of representatives from Sidmouth’s town council, Vision Group, Chamber of Commerce and Hospitality Association, to produce the document.

The Herald understands the brief was initially intended to go before the council’s executive committee in September and was told by an EDDC spokesperson: “The work of the steering group has not, to date, provided a commercially viable plan. We await developments in this respect.”

When asked about the issue, Richard Eley, a member of the Port Royal Steering Group, said he was hopeful of progress in 2011.

He added: “The group has delivered a draft document to EDDC which sets out our broad suggestions for the redevelopment of this very important area.

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“We’ve tried to establish parameters which will guide potential developers and encourage a high level of quality proposals. Those parameters must be realistic, but they should also be ambitious and do justice to what is a wonderful location.

“EDDC has responded with a number of comments which we have considered. In the New Year, we hope to meet with them to decide how to move things forward.

“The welcome purchase of the Drill Hall means that the site is now much more deliverable, and approaches from developers are likely and should be encouraged.

“We wish to see an open debate, with maximum consultation, leading to a considered and measured appraisal of the potential of the site.

“The consolidation of the ownership, brought about by the Drill Hall purchase, means that a rushed, piecemeal development of the site can now be avoided, and we can look forward to a comprehensive scheme and a well-considered future for Port Royal.”