‘YES’ to Sidmouth Fortfield Hotel site apartments bid

Controversial scheme granted planning permission

A CONTROVERSIAL bid to build 31 apartments on the site of Sidmouth’s former Fortfield Hotel has been granted planning permission.

Proposals that contain no holiday accommodation or ‘affordable’ homes – but do feature a �1.5million cash offer – were yesterday given the go-ahead by East Devon District Council (EDDC) Development Management Committee members.

Would-be site owner ZeroC now has permission to construct a pair of four-storey linked apartment buildings.

An EDDC officer recommended the scheme for approval in a report to committee members and said: “While the loss of a former hotel is regrettable there are no planning reasons why this application should be resisted.”

The officer adds the proposed development would make a “substantial contribution” to the local economy “by returning a presently derelict site into part of the community.” The report states proposals, and pre-application discussions between ZeroC bosses and experts, aimed to “achieve not only achieve a suitable and successful design of the building, but a development that contributes to the continued prosperity of Sidmouth.”

Fifty-nine people registered their views with EDDC with 34 voicing objections that included calls for a hotel at the site and fears the loss of holiday accommodation would be ‘detrimental to the prosperity of Sidmouth’ that would set a precedent.

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Detractors also branded the proposed buildings as ‘overbearing’ and expressed concerns over the impact on nearby listed properties.

Twenty-two supporters said the site was an ‘eye-sore’ that hadn’t generated income since 2006.

Officers say, if approved, developers should be told to pay �3,000 to local transport initiatives, �58,000 for education provision, �114,000 for open spaces and �1.325million on affordable housing and tourism.

Read a full report of Tuesday’s meeting in Friday’s Sidmouth Herald.