Smart and well designed flats on hall site would be inkeeping with town says Sidmouth Town Council

St John Ambulance Hall in Sidmouth. Ref shs 1995-03-16SH. Photo Simon Horn

St John Ambulance Hall in Sidmouth. Ref shs 1995-03-16SH. Photo Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Demolishing Sidmouth’s ‘ugly’ and ‘unused’ St John Ambulance Hall for a set of smart apartments has won the backing of the town’s planning committee.

Sidmouth Town Council’s planning committee met this week to discuss the application which would see the 58-year-old building knocked down to make way for 10, two-bedroom flats and 10 parking spaces on the Blackmore Drive site.

If approved, the development would measure two-and-a-half times more than the current building, increasing from 354sqm to 904sqm across four floors.

The hall has been empty since October 2016 after St John Ambulance made a decision to close a number of its halls.

It was built by Alice Brown in 1960 in memory of her four-year-old son, as a new base for cadets in the town to replace their HQ.

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Councillors praised the designs and said it would smarten the area up as the hall was ‘ugly’ and not well used.

Cllr Marc Kilsbie said: “As an existing venue, I do not see that it is viable to continue, it is not user-friendly. It is not well situated, it is not well visited by the community, it just isn’t one of the better examples, its probably second worst hall that we have at our disposal in the town.

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“For that reason it isn’t well used. I can see that this could be a very a good asset to the town, not only encouraging town centre dwelling it will also tidy that area up tremendously and I do think it is in keeping with builds that we have existing in the town but future builds we wish to encourage.”

Cllr John Rayson said it would be ‘disappointing’ to lose the hall due to its history within the community, adding: “On a planning point of view, I think what is proposed is quite good. I’m sure these flats will be well sought after, great situation and it’s nice they will supply parking spaces for the flats.”

Cllr Jeff Turner raised concerns about the increase in parking around the area due to the library and doctors’ surgery parking nearby, before the committee unanimously voted to support it.

Eight of the apartments would be in the south-west wing, with a maximum of three per floor – five of which would have balconies with views of Blackmore Garden.

The remaining two units would be spread over two storeys due to existing buildings adjacent to the site.

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