SVA weighs in on plans for Sidmouth’s Port Royal

The SVA said it was a 'significant error' for EDDC and Sidmouth Town Council to release this concept

The SVA said it was a 'significant error' for EDDC and Sidmouth Town Council to release this concept drawing of how Port Royal could look. The authorities said the illustrations is only intended to give an impression of the scale and size of a building on the site and how it might appear in relation to other buildings nearby. - Credit: Archant

Britain’s oldest civic society has described the release of concept drawings of Port Royal redeveloped with a building standing up to five storeys high as a ‘significant error’.

The Sid Vale Association (SVA) applauded East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Sidmouth Town Council (STC) for initiating a study that could lead to the ‘dilapidated’ site’s regeneration.

But it said important constraints had been missed and called for the exploration of underground car parking and the replacement of the sailing club with a watersports centre.

A spokesman for the SVA, a member of the Port Royal reference group, said: “The consultants must be able to start from a ‘proposal-free base’, and should include what might be achieved in the area should funding not be available for the construction of new facilities and housing.

“Any development of the Port Royal area should consider the retention and enhancement of existing buildings as the basis of a sea sports facility and lifeboat house as an alternative to complete, ground-up redevelopment.

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“The Drill Hall is an old building and may warrant further investigation. We are very disappointed that the study does not investigate the possibility of undercroft car parking on Area D [the Ham West car park] with building above. This could cater for any new residential and perhaps restaurant proposals.

“There should be no reduction in car parking areas and, if new housing is proposed, parking should be increased to meet the proposed demand.

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“We noted that the 30 dwellings on the Local Plan were derived arbitrarily and that a modest increase might be acceptable, if sensitively planned and designed, if their provision gave rise to greater funding possibilities.”

The councils’ consultation said the redeveloped Port Royal could feature a new building standing up to five storeys high that incorporates the existing facilities, plus up to 30 flats.

The SVA said release of the concept drawings was beyond the consultation’s terms of reference, adding: “We believe that producing it has been a significant error and is misleading the public at this early stage.”

It said the study had failed to consider constraints such as the conservation area or ownership of the Ham.

STC and EDDC said in a joint statement that there were nearly 250 responses to the consultation and the SVA’s ‘measured and constructive’ comments will be ‘included in the mix’, adding: “Together with data from the over 1,800 responses from the wider Neighbourhood Plan consultation, the information will be valuable to the councils as they consider the scoping study report of the independent consultants.

“As highlighted by the SVA, the Port Royal scoping study reference group will be reviewing the findings of the independent consultant before they are reported to the councils.”

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