Port Royal: Modesty (EDDC) versus ambition (Hugo Swire)

Owl reported last week in Hugo Swire’s grandiose ideas about redevelopment of Sidmouth’s Port Royal, including his suggestion to bring in Prince Charles’s design team:


Thankfully, the district council has gone for a more “modest” plan. Swire bemoans this and says plans should have been more “ambitious”. Sadly, these days “ambitious” is a word often interchangeable with “greedy” in modern planning terminology!

“District chiefs will not bring in the Prince of Wales’ design team after they opted for a ‘more modest’ direction for Port Royal.

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire said the Prince’s Foundation could create a development that has the community’s backing.

But a scoping study for the site revealed a number of ‘unresolved uncertainties’ so East Devon District Council (EDDC) has limited its proposals to marketing the Drill Hall. A spokeswoman said: “Had we felt that it was possible to go forward with a comprehensive redevelopment of the Port Royal site then the involvement of the Prince’s Foundation was certainly worthy of exploration.

“However, as explained, this is a much more modest and specific direction proposed that involves the Drill Hall site only.”

Sir Hugo told the Herald focusing the redevelopment on the Drill Hall would be ‘missed opportunity’ and it required an ambitious approach.”


Inaugural meeting – “Plastic Free Sidmouth” – 22 February, 7 pm

Starting in Sidmouth and hopefully spreading across a “Plastic Free East Devon” and “Plastic Free Devon”.

Futures Forum of the Vision Group for Sidmouth

Press release: Thursday 8th February 2018

The Futures Forum of the Vision Group for Sidmouth will be holding a meeting open to all later this month to facilitate the bringing about of a ‘Plastic Free Sidmouth’.

This follows in the wake of several key campaigns in the Sid Valley, including the beach cleans by Sidmouth in Bloom’s Sidcombers, Surfers Against Sewage and the Sidmouth Plastic Warriors.

All of these groups are concerned about the amount of plastic making its way into our seas – and the devastating effect it has had, as seen on the BBC’s Blue Planet.

Denise Bickley of the Plastic Warriors has also been at the forefront of an on-line petition to ‘Make Sidmouth a single-use-plastic-free town’ at Change.org.

As for their part, the Town Council is going to be installing water fountains, and more businesses are looking at their use of plastic – including offering a free refill of water bottles.

And in Penzance, Surfers Against Sewage have been pioneering an ‘action plan’ for towns who want to go ‘plastic free’ with their Plastic Free Coastlines community toolkit.

On Thursday 22nd February there will be a public meeting to look at how Sidmouth could take a plastic free project forward – starting 7pm at the Leigh Browne Room of the Dissenters’/Unitarian Church Hall, opposite the Hospital.

It will be hosted by the Futures Forum of the Vision Group for Sidmouth and will be chaired by Robert Crick.

“Plastic waste on our beaches has doubled over the last decade”, he says. “Other towns have initiated town wide schemes to reduce plastic. Could this be an initiative for Sidmouth to adopt?”

Meanwhile, the Plastic Warriors will be having another plastic clean up on Saturday 17th February around the Woolbrook area, starting and finishing at the Youth Centre, 2 to 3pm: join the group on Facebook.

Their group’s founder Denise Bickley says: “We have lots of big ideas in the Sidmouth Plastic Warriors group and are keen to discuss the way forward at the public meeting on the 22nd.”

Anyone interested in a ‘plastic free Sidmouth’ is welcome to come along.

For more information go to http://www.visionforsidmouth.org”

Sidmouth: Swire fancies flats and car parking at Port Royal – or getting Prince Charles in!

He says Prince Charles’s architects would be “non-political” But in the absence of the Prince he says:

“My view of the Ham is that we could do multi-storey car parking there. It could be wrapped in retail or starter flats. There’s terrible parking pressure there already. You could have more people living in that part of the town.

“I think it would be a missed opportunity to just do something with the Drill Hall and not the rest of it. It requires an ambitious approach.”

And that’s not political? Pull the other one!

What do you bet Diviani comes to the same conclusion – by coincidence, of course!


Exmouth sees drop in second home sales

“The number of second homes in Exmouth has fallen by almost three per cent since 2015. But, the town still has the second highest number in East Devon.

An FOI request, submitted by the Journal, revealed that on average, for every 38 properties in the town, there was one second home.

The statistics revealed there were 16,987 households in Exmouth and of these 422 were second homes, meaning they made up around 2.6 per cent of the total number of properties.

Over the last three years, the number of second homes across the district has slowly been decreasing. Across East Devon there are 69,333 households, with 2,339 being used as second homes. This has fallen by 2.8 per cent since 2015.

In Exmouth, the drop was slightly more, with a three per cent decrease from 459 to 442. Estate agents have suggested this is down to the increase on stamp duty when purchasing a second house. Mike Dibble, a director Bradleys Estate Agents, said anybody who bought a second home now paid an extra three per cent in stamp duty. He added: “For example, if you are a first-time buyer and purchase a home for £250,000, the stamp duty would be £2,500.
“But, if you are buying a second home or a buy-to-let then you would pay an extra £7,500, paying a total of £10,000 in stamp duty”.

Mr Dibble added the estate agents sold ‘nowhere near’ as many second homes as they used to.

The town with the most second homes was Sidmouth, which by April of this year, had a total of 471. The town has half the number of households compared to Exmouth and statistically, of Sidmouth’s 7,885 properties, six per cent are second homes.

The third highest was Seaton where around 5.4 per cent of the total number of properties are second homes – for every 19 properties in Seaton there is around one second home.

An East Devon District Council spokeswoman said: “There are a large number of second homes in East Devon for which the owners pay council tax in the same way as do all other home owners in the district.”

Journal 14 December 2017

The original article:

Sidmouth Port Royal: an independent view

“In July, ‘Three Rs’ campaigners unveiled their alternative vision to ‘retain, refurbish, re-use’ the site’s existing buildings.

They wanted to challenge suggestions that the ‘only apparent option’ for the development of eastern town was to construct a multi-use building with 30 homes that could stand up to five storeys high.

Campaigners argue the existing buildings should be retained, the whole area should be refurbished as needed and sites such as the Drill Hall and the old boat park should be re-used.

In a bid to keep the public informed, they have created four information sheets ahead of the publication of a final report on Port Royal.

Councillor Cathy Gardner, [Independent East Devon Alliance] who is one of those leading the Three Rs campaign, said: “We think it is important people have more background information for the proposals for the Port Royal area, particularly while we are waiting for the final report from the scoping study – we are expecting that in January.

“We have tried to be as factual as we can. People ask a lot of questions and sometimes there are misunderstandings, and we just want to help clarify it for everybody.”

The information sheets explain the challenges East Devon District Council (EDDC) faces in redeveloping the site and the importance of the authority deciding on what happens, and argue it is essential to retain the Drill Hall.

The guides also look at what the Ham is and its conveyance, the role played by Sidmouth Town Council, what the Local Plan has to do with Port Royal, and where Devon County Council comes in.

As well as this, the information sheets will address how the car parks could be refurbished.

Cllr Gardner said the campaigners could also cover other topics so asked residents who were unsure on anything or think something should be clarified to let them know.

The information sheets have also been pinned up on a notice boards around Sidmouth and are available online at http://www.retain-refurbish-reuse.uk.

Alternatively, email cathy.gardner@eastdevonalliance.org.uk for an electronic copy.”


Axminster and Sidmouth voted in worst 9 town to live in by locals!

“A website which lists the worst places to live in the UK lists nine places as the worst in Devon – and the reviews on the website iLiveHere.uk are all written by local people. It includes Axminster and Sidmouth.

7 – Axminster – Blink and you’ll miss it

Axminster is a small town where everybody knows everybody, in fact most people know about your business before even you do.

8 – Sidmouth, it is paradise… for the retired or elderly

Visit the Donkey Sanctuary, it’s the richest charity in the UK which takes the p*** a bit because donkeys are no longer needed for anything.”


Oh dear!

Two councils, two very different approaches to retirement housing

It is interesting to compare the Millbrook development in Exeter with PegasusLife’s at the Knowle, Sidmouth.

At Millbrook [the retirement complex in Exeter, Exeter City Council being the planning authority] the development was considered to be C3 (dwelling houses) and therefore attracted affordable housing provision which consisted of a payment to the Council of £5.65 million plus the transfer of land at no cost to enable the Council to construct a public extra care facility on the site. In addition the developer contributed almost £300,000 towards sports facilities and £35,000 towards archeological recording.

And what are PegasusLife, who are backed by Oaktree, a billion-dollar equity giant with offshore tax-haven connnections, contributing?

Answer: nothing, whether the development is adjudged to be C2 (residential institution) or C3. Unless of course, you include an information board to tell you where the elegant lawn terraces in the public gardens used to be.

So how many “affordable” houses (or other provision) is East Devon losing out on?