Eight major developments that could mean big changes for Sidmouth and the Sid Valley

A blueprint for development in the Sid Valley is set to be given the final seal of approval next week.

More than 90 per cent of residents who voted were in favour of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan at a referendum

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet will next week officially ‘make’ the plan, so it will become a legal planning document to help shape any development in the area for the next decade and beyond.

The plan says there will be a presumption against any development proposal within the ‘green wedges’ and calls for the protection of open spaces such as parks, The Byes, Knowle, Connaught Gardens and the beach.

It also includes a policy that any new open market housing, excluding replacement dwellings, will only be supported when it is restricted to being used as a ‘principal residence’ and not as a ‘second home’.

Ahead of the official adoption of the plan, the Local Democracy Reporting Service takes a look at eight existing developments and proposals that are taking place in the Sid Valley:

Sidmouth seafront

An artist's impression of the raised Sidmouth sea wall.

An artist’s impression of the raised Sidmouth sea wall.

A multi-million pound beach management plan to protect Sidmouth’s crumbling coastline is being progressed.

The preferred beach management scheme consists of adding a new rock groyne on East Beach, importing new shingle, and controversially raising the existing splash wall to one metre above the promenade to contain wave overtopping.

The scheme aims to maintain the 1990s Sidmouth Coastal Defence Scheme Standard of Service and reduce the rate of beach and cliff erosion to the east of the River Sid.

The plans would not stop cliff falls, but would reduce the erosion from the toe of the cliffs.

The preferred option for the beach management plan for Sidmouth.

The preferred option for the beach management plan for Sidmouth.

Costs for construction of the scheme are estimated at £8.9million, but there is a funding gap of around £1.5m that urgently needs to be filled.

A deadline of August 2020 has been agreed to source the outstanding finance, as after which time, an alternative plan, involving only the town frontage, would be worked up and submitted for funding approval.

Drill Hall

Rockfish Sidmouth Drill Hall

Rockfish has submitted plans to turn Sidmouth’s seafront Drill Hall into an eatery. Picture: Rockfish

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan says that any development for the eastern end of Sidmouth, around the Port Royal, should reinvigorate the town and become a ‘culturally vibrant centre’ for the community and visitors.

Plans have already been submitted by Rockfish to open a restaurant in the Drill Hall building.

EDDC’s cabinet unanimously decided to select Rockfish’s pitch as its preferred bid for the redevelopment and renewal of Drill Hall.

Sidmouth Drill Hall

Sidmouth Drill Hall.

Rockfish owner Mitch Tonks is set to be spend £1million on the redevelopment of the area – with the new restaurant creating between 30 and 40 jobs.

The eatery could open by April or May 2020 if the planning application is approved by EDDC.

Knowle

Knowle Sidmouth East Devon District Council EDDC

Knowle in Sidmouth is the former home of East Devon District Council.

EDDC’s former HQ at Knowle is set to be converted into a 113-apartment assisted living community.

Ownership of the site will be transferred to developer PegasusLife for an increased sum of £9,019,605, on December 18.

A scheme to reduce flood risk to more than 100 homes and businesses and provide protection from surface water around the Knowle area is also planned by Devon County Council.

The proposals include drains across Station Road to capture surface water flows.

This will discharge via a pipe to a swale, or channel, through the parkland to a storage area at the lower end which will be constructed in the form of an amphitheatre.

This design will also serve as a public amenity.

The design of the Sidmouth flood alleviation scheme for Knowle. Image: Devon County Council

The design of the Sidmouth flood alleviation scheme for Knowle. Image: Devon County Council

Councillor Stuart Hughes said: “This scheme is a win-win for Sidmouth as not only will it reduce flood risk but it will also provide a performance area for events, including the Sidmouth Folk Festival.”

New Alma Bridge

An artist's impressions of the proposed new Alma Bridge in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

An artist’s impressions of the proposed new Alma Bridge in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

Work is progressing on the scheme to develop a new structure spanning the River Sid to replace the 130-year-old Alma Bridge 37 metres upstream.

The new bridge will have a minimum lifespan of 40 years.

The popular seafront recreation ground, the Ham, has been fenced-off, while the Hangar Path, the current footpath leading up to Cliff Road, has been closed during the construction phase.

A temporary bridge is currently in place to provide unrestricted access between the contractor’s compound and the working area on the east side of the river.

It is expected that cliff re-profiling, rock anchoring and piling activities will be completed by Christmas, allowing the construction of the concrete abutments and foundations to commence in the new year.

An artist's impressions of the proposed new Alma Bridge in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

An artist’s impressions of the proposed new Alma Bridge in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

Cllr Hughes said: “I am sure people who have walked near this end of the seafront in the past month will have viewed the progress being made on site.

“The stabilisation work to the cliff face is all important and it has started well.

“It makes sense to keep the material from the re-profiling of the cliff on site by depositing it at the base of cliffs at Pennington Point.

“This will mimic the natural erosion process and it will be washed out to sea in the same way as material from cliff falls.”

Weather permitting, the scheme is expected to be completed in spring 2020.

An artist's impressions of the proposed new Alma Bridge in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

An artist’s impressions of the proposed new Alma Bridge in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

Sidford Business Park

In August,  government planning inspector Luke Fleming allowed an appeal for an outline plans for 8,445sq m of employment space on agricultural land off Two Bridges Road, Sidford.

Applicants Tim and Mike Ford said the scheme would create 250 new jobs.

The proposals attracted more than 250 letters of objection against the plans, with some 1,400 people signing a ‘Say No To Sidford Business Park’ campaign petition.

EDDC had refused the bid on the grounds of harm to highway safety before an appeal was lodged.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Fleming said: “These are significant benefits that outweigh the effects and inconvenience of the increase in HGV traffic in the area. Thus, on balance, the appeal should therefore be allowed.”

A further application for the detail of the scheme will need to be submitted and approved by East Devon District Council.

The proposal would also contribute towards a section of the Sidmouth to Sidford cycle route and a planning application for that is being prepared by Devon County Council.

The current agricultural land earmarked for the planned Sidford Business Park. Image: Daniel Clark

The current agricultural land earmarked for the planned Sidford Business Park. Image: Daniel Clark

Green Close

Construction work has begun on converting a former care home into retirement apartments.

Churchill Retirement Living’s plans to revamp the closed 23-bed former Green Close facility in Drakes Avenue, Sidford, were finally given the go-ahead by EDDC planners in December last year.

Two similar schemes were previously rejected.

Green Close care home - before and after the demolition. Image Daniel Clark.

Green Close care home – before and after the demolition. Image Daniel Clark.

The sheltered accommodation apartment plans will see the care home demolished and replaced with 40 apartments, with a guest suite, owners’ lounge, lift and office also included, along with 24 parking spaces.

A financial contribution of £677,434 to the council towards the provision of affordable housing within the district is a condition of the application, which Churchill have agreed is acceptable.

The Green Close care home was built in 1971 but closed in 2014 after Devon County Council cutbacks.

Sidmouth College

An artist's impression of the new Sidmouth College building. Image: Bouygues UK

An artist’s impression of the new Sidmouth College building. Image: Bouygues UK

Work has begun on the multi-million pound redevelopment of Sidmouth College.

The scheme to improve the buildings students are taught in involves demolition of the the existing main 1960s  building, which will be replaced with a grassed quad area.

It will be replaced with a new, L-shaped three- and two-storey building , on the edge of the existing car park.

A grassed quad area w then replace the old building.

The project is being funded by the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme.

An artist’s impression of the new Sidmouth College building. Image: Bouygues UK

A new modern science suite will be built on the top floor, while history, geography, religious education, music, a technology workshop, offices and stores, new kitchens and dining spaces for students would also be provided.

A school hall, activity/dance studio, reception area, staff room and officers would also be housed in the new building.

Lidl relocation?

Supermarket giant Lidl wants to relocate its Sidmouth store elsewhere in the town and also open new outlets in Cranbrook, Axminster, Seaton and the centre of Exmouth.

The firm lists the five places – and a trio of locations in Exeter – among 20 locations on a wish-list of sites for Devon.

On the move? The Lidl store in Woolbrook Road, Sidmouth. Picture: Google Maps.

On the move? The Lidl store in Woolbrook Road, Sidmouth. Picture: Google Maps.

The supermarket giant says it is looking for ‘prominent locations with easy access and strong pedestrian or traffic flow’.

It is open to freehold and leasehold opportunities and ‘flexible on design and scale’ between 14,000 sq ft and 26,500 sq ft.

The Sidmouth store is currently located in Woolbrook Road and Cllr Hughes has warned of the potential knock-on effects of if the supermarket is moved out of the area.

He says, apart from the Alexandria Industrial Estate or Sidford Business Park, there would be nowhere else in the area such an outlet could go.

More Sidmouth news: 

 – Lidl sets sights on new stores in Sidmouth, Exmouth, Cranbrook, Seaton and Axminster

 – District council reveals how much developer will pay for former Sidmouth HQ 

 – First phase of Sidmouth flood prevention scheme aims to protect 100 properties

 

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