Sidmouth's Port Royal redevelopment hiccup

LACK of money and staff could mean redevelopment plans for Sidmouth s Port Royal area are put on hold.

LACK of money and staff could mean redevelopment plans for Sidmouth's Port Royal area are put on hold.

Following the departure of its Urban Designer and the post being frozen, East Devon District Council has no internal resources to progress a development brief for the Port Royal site, says corporate director Karime Hassan, in a report before the council's executive board next Wednesday (September 2), and private consultants would have to be engaged, at an estimated cost of �60,000, to produce the brief.

Councillors have to decide whether Exmouth's redevelopment brief takes priority.

Mr Hassan reports: "The council has previously agreed to work with the Town Council to produce the development brief, and Sidmouth Vision (Group) and others have also signalled their interest.

"A lot of time will need to be invested in community consultation and the cost of the brief will need to reflect a significant investment of time."

There is no funding shown in EDDC's revenue budget for such work and the only source of potential funding would be the Local Authority Business Grant Initiative.

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"There is sufficient funding in the LAGBI to take forward a development brief, but it does mean less funding is available to invest in the regeneration programmes for Exmouth and Seaton," states Mr Hassan.

Unless EDDC can secure half of the money needed through match-funding, possibly through Sidmouth Town Council or the private sector, so the district's costs would be kept to �25,000, it seems the project could be mothballed.

Part of the scheme to re-develop the Ham Lane/Port Royal area would involve the acquisition of the Drill Hall site, and in February 2008 the executive decided to negotiate with the trustees of the Army Cadet Force to acquire the hall and work with the ACF to re-locate the cadets to a new HQ.

Permission has been granted for a joint meeting place for ACF and ATC and rifle range at Chambers Close, Stowford Rise, but executive members will be told the scheme, together with the site value, may cost more than the Drill Hall site is worth.

Councillors will be asked to consider what priority they want to place on producing a development brief for Port Royal and signal the possibility of match-funding to the town council.