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.”

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.”

Knowle objections to Inspector must be in by Wednesday this week

Residents have until Wednesday (September 6) to make their representations after a developer appealed the refusal of its plans for a 113-home retirement community at Knowle.

Deadline looms on developer’s Knowle planning appeal

PUBLISHED: 19:32 03 September 2017 Stephen Sumner
Residents have until Wednesday (September 6) to make their representations after a developer appealed the refusal of its plans for a 113-home retirement community at Knowle.

PegasusLife’s proposals for the site of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) current HQ were denied permission last year.

The Planning Inspectorate’s five-day inquiry to hear the appeal is set to open on November 28. It is not clear when a decision will be reached.

EDDC’s development management committee defied officer advice to refuse the scheme – arguing it represents a departure from Knowle’s 50-home allocation in the authority’s Local Plan.

Members also objected to the scale, height, bulk and massing of the proposed development. The developer has set out its arguments for the inquiry and will say it is ‘thoughtful and considered’.

EDDC said the development would result in a loss of light and privacy for adjoining properties, although PegasusLife says it will only ‘materially impact’ Hillcrest.

It will claim the development will not have a direct impact on Knowle’s listed summerhouse and that the scheme’s benefits outweigh any potential harm to it.

There was also a dispute with EDDC about whether the scheme should be classed as C2, care accommodation, or C3, housing, and PegasusLife will maintain that it should be the former. If the planning inspector agrees, it will not need to provide any ‘affordable’ housing or community funding for the town.

PegasusLife will argue that there is a ‘compelling need’ for extra care accommodation in East Devon. It says the development will be tailored to meet the needs of occupants as they age, with on-site communal facilities.

Under the proposals, there will also be a compulsory healthcare needs package for all residents, and an age restriction on the properties so at least one occupant is aged over 60.

The deal with PegasusLife is worth £7.505million to EDDC, subject to planning permission, although councillors have voted to press ahead with the authority’s £10million relocation to Exmouth and Honiton before any payment is made.

Comments on the application can be made at with appeal code 3177340.

Retirement housing plans dismissed due to ‘overage’ row

This is a REALLY important decision as it establishes principles that surely MUST form a part of PegasusLife plans for the Knowle. And it will also apply to other developments.

Or has EDDC conveniently agreed to overlook this with PegasusLife – whose massively greater number of flats at eye-wateringly higher prices will give a MUCH greater profit than Green Close?

“A developer’s appeal over its bid to demolish a Sidmouth care home and build 36 sheltered housing apartments for the elderly has been dismissed.

Churchill Retirement Living took its case to the Planning Inspectorate after East Devon District Council (EDDC) failed to decide on its application within the allotted time.

Its plans, for the site of the closed 23-bed former Green Close care home, were approved in November subject to a £41,000 contribution towards ‘affordable’ housing.

But the two sides were subsequently unable to agree on an ‘overage’ clause that would have seen Churchill share half of any profits with EDDC that exceed the former’s current forecasts.

Planning inspector Thomas Bristow said: “I accept the proposal would be beneficial in resulting in additional sheltered housing accommodation in East Devon, in supporting employment during construction, and as future occupants would make use of nearby services and facilities.

“I have also taken account of the various reports submitted by the appellants related to housing older people, which highlight the importance of housing provision for an ageing provision.

“However, the support accorded in general terms to enabling housing delivery is not at the expense of ensuring that all development makes appropriate provision for affordable housing.

“Moreover, as there is no dispute over whether the council are presently able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, the development proposed cannot be said to be necessary to meet housing requirements as they stand in East Devon.”

Town councillors had slammed Churchill’s £41,000 offer towards off-site ‘affordable’ housing as an ‘insult’ to Sidmouth – claiming the developer stood ‘make millions’ from the development.

EDDC accepted Churchill’s viability assessment showing it could make no more than the ‘relatively modest contribution’, but tried to impose the overage clause in case its profits exceeded expectations.

Mr Bristow found in the council’s favour and refused planning permission.

Churchill acquired the site from Green Close owner Devon County Council subject to planning permission.

A spokesman for the firm said it is considering its options.

Knowle development – a Premier Inn adjacent to a Travelodge next to a Holiday Inn!

A new photo-montage reveals the size and scale of the proposed PegasusLife luxury retirement complex planned for the Knowle site when EDDC decamps to Honiton.

Owl thinks it looks rather like a Premier Inn adjacent to a Travelodge next to a Holiday Inn! With maybe a soupcon of Cranbrook thrown in for good measure!

Oh unlucky Sidmouth to have such a building foisted on it.

Sidmouthians enjoy Ham picnic – more signatures for Port Royal “Retain, Re-use, Refurbish” petition

Sunday’s picnic in celebration of The Ham open space took place in bright Sidmouth sunshine, suiting the mood of the organisers, and catching the attention of a steady stream of passers-by.

Information sheets showing the Scoping Study single ‘Proposal’, as displayed at the public consultation, were the subject of much discussion and concern from locals and visitors alike. More signatures were eagerly added to the paper copies of the 3Rs petition, calling for Retain-Refurbish-Reuse, an alternative plan for Port Royal. ..with the numbers already far outweighing the signatures collected online.

To view the petition, search 38 degrees Sidmouth Retain.

It will be handed in to the joint Scoping Study partners, East Devon District Council, and to Sidmouth Town Council which next meets on Monday 4th September, 6.30pm at Woolcombe House, Woolcombe Lane. Public can attend the meeting.

More on Port Royal “Retain, Reuse, Refurbish” meeting last night

All the presentations, and programme for the meeting, are detailed here:

Vigorous audience participation at last night’s ‘3Rs’ Public Meeting, for a Retain-Refurbish-Reuse alternative for Sidmouth’s Port Royal

Slides are here:

Report of meeting:

“The five perfectly-pitched short presentations at last night’s Public Meeting were each restricted by Chair, Di Fuller, to not much more than 5 minutes. This maximised the time for questions and comments from the audience packed into Sidmouth’s All Saints’ Church Hall, and ensured ample time for the questions to be answered. There was a clear strength of opinion in the room, that Port Royal regeneration should be carefully conceived as a suitable legacy for the town. Local knowledge from those attending, raised issues such as flood risk and contamination that could disadvantage residential development on this site. Potential loss of existing public parking behind the lifeboat station was also a concern.

Speakers were EDDC Councillors Marianne Rixson (Ward Member Sidmouth-Sidford), Cathy Gardner and Matt Booth (Ward members Sidmouth Town); and local residents Mary-Walden-Till and Jeremy Woodward.

Mary Walden-Till concentrated on The Ham conveyance land.

She told the crowd:

“Under the terms of the Conveyance the land was given to the inhabitants of and visitors to Sidmouth as a place of recreation ‘for ever’. Subject only to ‘reasonable restrictions and regulations in accordance with the law for the time being affecting the use of Public Parks and Pleasure Grounds’.
It was a Trust for which Sidmouth Town Council is now the Trustee, with all the legal responsibilities that entails. Sidmouth Town Councillors act to manage that trust on behalf of the Council. It is a complex legal arrangement but it does not in any way affect the terms of the Conveyance which forms the Governing Document of the Charity.

It was therefore incorrect to allow part of The Ham to be included in the Local Plan area ED03 as being available for redevelopment. The toilet block stands on Ham land, and the Land Registry deed says it is covered by the terms of the Conveyance. I have asked EDDC Councillors to correct the boundary of ED03 but they never even bothered to acknowledge my email.
None of The Ham land is available to be built on or to be used in any way other than for free recreation for all. It can not be used as parking for cars or boats, as that is restricting its use. Using it as car parking was suggested, and thrown out, in the early part of the 20th C. Nothing has changed since then as far as the Conveyance is concerned. And nothing can change with the Conveyance except through our connivance or apathy.

It is in breach of charity law to do anything which adversely affects the rights of a charity’s beneficiaries, and any of those beneficiaries has the right to complain to the Charity Commission. Anyone who has ever been to Sidmouth is covered by the terms of the Conveyance, so there are a large number of people who can demand that the terms are kept.”

Vigorous audience participation at last night’s ‘3Rs’ Public Meeting, for a Retain-Refurbish-Reuse alternative for Sidmouth’s Port Royal