Sidmouth ‘shop to home’ transformation search launched

Spaces sought in town centre

SHOP owners in Sidmouth have been asked to consider whether space above their premises could be used as living accommodation.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) wants to trace vacant properties or find unused retail spots and storage areas that could be transformed into a home for someone.

Town residents who know of a first or second floor space that could be suitable for conversion have been asked to contact the authority’s empty homes partnership officer at Knowle.

Property owners or landlords who’ve already converted their premises for this purpose are invited to contact EDDC to help with an information pack advising how to create living space above a shop.

Councillor Sheila Kerridge, a Sidmouth Town Ward representative, says utilising empty spaces above retail outlets will help “regenerate” the town centre.

She said many business people would be keen but don’t know how to go about it - despite the cost to landlords being relatively low.

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Cllr Kerridge added: “We’ll be looking at town-centre shops and businesses in the next few months and an officer will drop in and have a chat about this – although I should stress that the EDDC doesn’t have any funding to make grants.”

Cllr Jill Elson, EDDC portfolio holder for housing, said: “Living space is at a premium in East Devon, especially in our town centres.

“Building new accommodation isn’t always an option, so we want to make the best possible use of space that is already there, but is possibly not fully utilised. It could also mean a bit of extra income from some dead space.”

Contact EDDC on (01395) 517456 to speak to the empty homes partnership officer on a Thursdays or Friday.