Vision Group for Sidmouth’s Fortfield concerns

A MOOTED redevelopment of Sidmouth’s fire-ravaged Fortfied Hotel site was branded “deplorable, bland and bloated” by Vision Group for Sidmouth (VGS) members.

A PROPOSED redevelopment of Sidmouth’s fire-ravaged Fortfield Hotel site was branded “deplorable, bland and bloated” by Vision Group for Sidmouth (VGS) members.

They fear proposals for 40 apartments could “wreck” some views of the town.

The organisation’s Seafront Group has called on district council planning chiefs to “think outside the box” and work with developers on a project “Sidmouth really needs.”

A new health centre, with a pay-and display car park at weekends, and a tourist-attracting health spa, was suggested for the site during talks on Monday. A luxury hotel was also what some wanted to see.

“The overwhelming feeling of those at the meeting was the proposal is deplorable,” said VGS chairman Robert Crick- acting as a spokesperson for the Seafront Group.

“The late, lamented Fortfield Hotel was flamboyant in style and proportional to its context.

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“The proposed building, by contrast, is bland and bloated.

“It promises to wreck one of the main perspectives of Sidmouth as seen from the coastal footpath and Esplanade.”

VGS members fear the density of bed spaces proposed is double that of the former hotel and twice that of surrounding apartments.

They said small, high-density apartments, such as those shown in would-be developer ZeroC’s latest designs, are “a glut” on the market in Sidmouth.

Mr Crick pointed to Cedar Shade, a project which saw mature trees controversially felled, where 30 per cent of luxury apartments are awaiting a first buyer three years on.

If a residential bid was granted planning permission, affordable homes should be included to “strengthen the social cohesion” of Sidmouth, said Mr Crick.

He emphasised VGS doesn’t hold a policy position but does seek to provide a forum for discussion and hoped the consensus reached will spark debate among residents.