Site visit to decide fate of Sidmouth hotel plans after 'grave reservations'

PUBLISHED: 09:18 20 September 2017

Decision-makers will conduct a site visit to properly consider new plans for a four-storey apartment block in a prominent location on Sidmouth seafront.

The eight flats at the Sidmouth Harbour Hotel, formerly the Westcliff, have been approved in principle but revised proposals would see the lower two floors built four metres closer to Manor Road.

The design has also been altered from a previous scheme after it was judged ‘wholly unacceptable’, given the sensitivity of the site.

Recommending approval, officers said the principle of the apartment block was already ‘firmly established’, adding: “The fallback position represented by the extant permission for an alternative scheme also carries significant weight.”

The flats were initially proposed in 2007 to bolster the Westcliff Hotel’s viability and secure its future, and £450,000 has since been invested.

Plans submitted earlier this year were supported by Sidmouth Town Council but it later raised concerns it had done so based on ‘inadequate and misleading’ information. The council was reacting to claims from Michael Page, the hotel’s nearest neighbour, that the application was submitted by an individual rather than the hotel, so the flats could be sold privately.

He told last week’s development management committee meeting the designs were ‘unworthy’ and would ‘seriously damage’ the setting, which adjoins the conservation area. He said the upper flats would have a ‘bird’s-eye view’ of his house.

Ward member Councillor Cathy Gardner said: “Moving the hotel four metres further forward has a big impact on a sensitive area. All the other hotels are set well back from the road. The new application is more overbearing and inappropriate.”

Members were split on the changes to the design but Cllr Mark Williamson said the proposals had the support of East Devon District Council’s conservation officer and of Historic England.

Cllr David Barratt said: “The previous application was further back and much nicer. The roof terraces will have a bird’s-eye view of neighbouring properties. I have grave reservations.”

He proposed refusal based on its inappropriate design but committee chairman Cllr Mike Howe suggested making a site visit, which members supported.

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