Independent East Devon Alliance councillors spearhead rethink on Port Royal development

“Cllr Cathy Gardner, who jointly led the ‘Three Rs’ campaign to retain, refurbish and re-use existing buildings at Port Royal, said: “I’m delighted that the reference group has reacted to the views of residents and the consultant will reconsider their recommendations.

“The redevelopment of this area of town is important to all of us and a chance to do something wonderful for the town.

“The Three Rs campaign group will be working to encourage a community-based solution that makes the most of the heritage of the area without over-commercialisation.”

Exmouth Water Sports Centre: Grenadier’s three days of consultation announced

Grenadier is holding consultation events at Ocean in Queen’s Drive on October 21 and 25, between 9am and 5pm, and on November 1 between 5pm and 9pm.

It says the proposed scheme would provide training and changing facilities alongside an outdoor events space and eateries, and is expected to provide services throughout the year.

The initial plans have been called “uninspiring” and protestors note that the illustrations do not show the Queens Drive road diversion as described by EDDC.

Amsterdam bans new tourist shops to “prevent Disneyfication”

“Amsterdam has announced a ban on any new shops aimed at tourists – effectively limiting the abundance of places hiring bikes and selling souvenirs, tour tickets and ubiquitous waffles.

After mounting rage from locals – who wrote collectively to the mayor to protest against the “Disneyfication” of the city centre a year ago – the Dutch capital has decided that no more tourist shops will get licences in the central area.

“Nowhere else in the world has such a decision been made,” said Kajsa Ollongren, deputy mayor. “The balance is missing. We are only getting more of the same, and that is not good for our quality of life.”

It is estimated that there are 280 such shops in the centre, while tourist numbers have increased to 17 million visitors a year in the latest estimates – a tenth of them hosted by Airbnb, according to research by Colliers International.

But while some are making money, not everyone is happy. In May, chief executive of Amsterdam Marketing Frans van der Avert told a tourism conference that the city was aiming to ‘increase the quality of visitors’, rather than hosting tourists ‘with no respect for [its] character.

Amsterdam has put up tourist taxes, and on October 1, a new licencing system was imposed for anyone wanting to rent out their house short term – with fines of at least €6,000 for failure to comply, and a limit of 60 days annually.

The latest ban will apply immediately in the city centre and 40 shopping streets, meaning no new licences will be granted for things like ticket shops, bike rental companies, cheese, doughnut and ice-cream sellers.

“By not allowing new tourist shops to open we make sure our city centre remains attractive and liveable for Amsterdammers and our visitors,” said Ollongren, who heads economic affairs.

“Tourists are very welcome, but we want to avoid mass tourism taking over entire streets and neighbourhoods.”

Exmouth water sports centre plans revealed

First thoughts?

Owl’s – well, it doesn’t look like it will win any design awards! Personally, Owl preferred the boating lake and swan pedallos.

EDDC seems to prefer income loss to seafront attractions

Owl has spotted a disclosure by EDDC in relation to a FOI on the loss of income and business rates on closed Exmouth seafront businesses:

EDDC effectively admit that council rental income from those properties on Queens Drive, which they closed a while back, mean a loss at a rate of over £18,300 pa. On top of the rent, they will have lost an as yet unspecified amount of council business rates and beach hut hire income. Oh, and the area now looks derelict.

Though there were claims that the Fun Park site was needed in connection with works on phases 1 and 2, there are plans in existence (see on Save Exmouth Seafront Facebook page) which show no such need for access as yet to the Fun Park.

It seems clear that EDDC have done little or nothing about arrangements for ‘temporary attractions’ on the Fun park site next year – at least as far as the public can determine.

So, we know that already part of the seafront is looking run down and desolate, and is losing money into the bargain. Further, the case for getting rid of the Fun Park seems much more to do with EDDC taking offence at a long established family business having the sheer gall to take EDDC on in pursuit of that families legitimate rights, than allowing them to continue to provide a much-loved service to the community – including thousands of tourists.

No, rather EDDC take a chance that something “might” come up by way of temporary attractions if only it hopes hard enough.

And surely EDDC is breaking its own (well-honed) rules on confidentiality when it voluntarily gives information that one owner allegedly had an outstanding unpaid bill – again.

Sidmouth Drill Hall ‘propaganda’

Owl says: starting a consultation by illustrating it with a detailed schematic plan of 5 storey buildings is asking for trouble – duh!

If you then go on to construct those 5 storey buildings, it would get very murky indeed!

A campaigner determined to see Sidmouth’s Drill Hall considered as part of any regeneration plans for Port Royal has slammed ‘propaganda’ from project leaders.

Mary Walden-Till’s research into the history of the eastern town has covered much of the same ground as the scoping study commissioned by landowners Sidmouth Town Council (STC) and East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Town clerk Christopher Holland and Councillor Jeff Turner sat down with the Herald in a bid to reassure residents nothing has yet been decided – but Ms Walden-Till took issue with several of the points they raised.

She raised: “I know that both Cllr Turner and Mr Holland are committed to doing what they think is the best for Sidmouth so I was very disappointed to read something in the Herald (‘Port Royal could see massive development – or nothing at all’) which appeared to be propaganda rather than unadorned fact.

“If we want the best outcome for the town, we all need to make sure we are not playing games, even accidentally. If they can’t avoid ‘spin’ then they can’t claim to be open-minded on the issue. It is a matter of fact that both of them are on record as being vehemently opposed to preserving the Drill Hall.

“If the starting point is that the Drill Hall must be demolished, then it has to be accepted that it is unlikely that a developer would be interested in such a small plot, so then the search begin for a way to make it worth a developer’s time.

As a designer, it is important to me to start a project with no preconceptions about what should be removed or retained in order to achieve the desired result.

“The scoping exercise consultants should have started from the same point, and we should be able to see that they had considered a range of ways of increasing what Port Royal can offer to the town.

“This development should be about the town and not about ways of making money for the district as a whole. The district has already benefitted from Sidmouth’s loss in far too many circumstances: for example the loss of Fortfield Hotel to expensive apartments, the Section 106 money from which went to the district not solely to Sidmouth, and the upcoming loss of the council jobs at the Knowle, moving employment from Sidmouth to other areas of the district.

“To suggest that reusing the Drill Hall will of necessity ‘take away from other users’ of Port Royal is clearly ridiculous. How would preserving what is there at the same time reduce what is there?”

In a joint statement, Mr Holland and Cllr Turner said: “STC and EDDC would like to reiterate the aims of the scoping study. It is to research, investigate and report on the opportunities and constraints of improving the whole important Port Royal area.

“The councils have yet to receive the independent consultant’s Scoping Study to even begin discussing issues such as detailed designs, which would come further along in the project.

“The study is the start of a process that would, if supported by the councils, involve a much more detailed visioning for future consideration.

“To champion a single building at this stage which is a small part of a much larger area and be in constant opposition to a simple study which only aims to help inform councillors is not helpful.

“Members of both councils will decide how and if to proceed once the scoping study report is presented to them.”

Exmouth Fun Park WILL close – even though there is no developer for the site

For – 21
Against – 26
Abstain – 0

Notice of motion is not agreed – it is the end of the debate – the fun park will close.

For full summary of what residents and councillors said, see: