Green light for internal improvements at historic Sidmouth hotel

A Sidmouth hotel has been granted Listed Building Consent to create a new reception and bar area, along with other improvements. Planners say the work will, in part, restore the hotel to its original design.

East Devon District Council approved the application relating to Grade II* Listed Sidholme Hotel, in Elysian Fields. The historic mansion sits in nine acres of grounds and was originally constructed for the 6th Earl of Buckinghamshire in the 1800s. It has operated as a guest house and hotel since 1931 and is renowned for its grand music room.

The proposals, submitted by Methodist Guild Holidays Limited, sought approval to carry out a range of internal improvement works, including:

  • The creation of a new reception in the entrance hall
  • Removal of the existing reception to create a new bar area
  • The removal of a partition wall, glazed screen and a door in the existing TV lounge to create a new bar lounge
  • Partial replacement of architrave from the new bar lounge to a waiting/seating area

Other works include making good plaster work.

Sidmouth Town Council supported the application, so long as it was acceptable to the Conservation Officer.

Described as a ‘remarkable heritage asset’ in a planning officer’s report, it was noted that the applicant had sought pre-application advice in relation to conservation.

Outlining the reasons for approving the application, the report stated: “The rooms affected by this proposal have in some areas been subject to unsympathetic modern decoration. In the existing TV lounge, it is partitioned off into a smaller room in order to form a corridor. This is detrimental to the historic plan form and presently visually offsets the beautiful fireplace , which should appear central on its elevation.

“The proposal addresses this with the removal of this partition and its doorway and returns it to its historic plan form, which is supported.”

On the subject of changes to the reception area, the report states: “The change of use of the reception area to a bar is minimal intervention, other than the removal of the existing reception desk.”

The quality of finish and traditional detailing was cited as important to the success of the improvements.

The report concluded: “The proposed works are to ensure the future business of this hotel and to encourage more of the public to visit and enjoy this remarkable heritage asset and its setting.

“The heritage gains are the removal of awkward modern partitions and fittings, and to restore some of the original features that have been lost as a consequence of this.”

The full, fascinating history of the Sidmouth hotel is contained in a Statement of Significance Report.

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