Bid to extend Sidmouth Museum to provide ‘much-needed’ disabled access

Proposal for single-storey addition to popular Sidmouth Museum as access for wheelchair users is ‘almost impossible’ at present

Picture of Sidmouth Museum

Sidmouth Museum in Church Street. Picture courtesy of the Sid Vale Association.

Plans to extend Sidmouth Museum to provide ‘much-needed’ access and a toilet for disabled people have been revealed.

Proposals for a single-storey extension at the popular Church Street attraction have been submitted to the district council.

The Sid Vale Association wants to build a lean-to at the rear of the listed Hope Cottage, which dates back to 1830, to give wheelchair users a ‘dignified access and experience’.

It is stated in the proposals that the project’s aim is to ‘provide a much-needed disabled access and WC for this well-used public building’.

The SVA says that access to the museum at present is up two steps and ‘almost impossible’ for wheelchair users. Volunteers currently have to position a mobile temporary ramp onto the pavement for disabled people.

Plan to extend Sidmouth Museum

The proposal is for a single-storey lean-to at the rear of Hope Cottage, which is the home of Sidmouth Museum.

“The proposals would allow a dignified access and experience for visitors to the museum, albeit restricted to the ground floor,” says the planning application. “Other options would also be far more obtrusive and visible.

“The ideal place for a disabled access would be on the south or west elevations facing Church Street or Coburg Road, but the significance of these elevations is recognised and therefore it is proposed to construct a single-storey lean-to at the rear, where it appears there has already been a two-storey extension, to provide the level access and a disabled WC with minimal impact on the existing building. Access is achieved by removing an existing window.

Much-needed access and facilities

“The importance of the location adjacent to the other listed buildings, such as the church, Coburg Terrace, Harston, the War Memorial Club and Amyatts Terrace, have been considered and the extension has been positioned to have the minimum effect visually and will only really be seen from the entrance to Amyatts Terrace. As Hope Cottage is set forward of the terrace, it will not be read as part of the terrace. Therefore, there will not be any overlooking or loss of amenity to neighbouring properties.

“The significance of the historic asset as can be seen from the listing is derived from the exterior of the building itself and its location. The proposals are positioned to have the minimum possible effect on the building and leave the main elevations unaltered and in an area where previous additions have taken place. It is considered that the addition will not affect the significance of the historic asset whilst providing much-needed access and facilities for the disabled.

A floor plan of Sidmouth Museum

Plans submitted to East Devon District Council to extend Sidmouth Museum in Church Street.

“The existing building is a museum open to the public and presently does not have access or facilities for the disabled. Whilst it is appreciated that any alterations or extensions to listed buildings are not desirable in this instance, the extension option is considered the best, as to create an entrance and disabled WC without extending the footprint would involve considerable alterations to the existing fabric, including a new door as it is not possible to adapt the existing entrances.  The proposals enable the main elevations of the building to remain unaltered.”

East Devon District Council will decide the fate of the application.

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