The District Council has secured ownership of the Drill Hall building - although there is lack of clarity as to how much was paid: £440k or £600k?
There is quite a back-story:
Drill Hall demolition ‘unacceptable’ - News - Sidmouth Herald
Sidmouth Drill Hall proposed demolition - final date for comments - Places - Great War Forum
Shock change of plan for Drill Hall - News - Sidmouth Herald
17 83926 Chamber's Close Sidmouth Drill Hall replacement, 2011/12 = £340k
30 83926 Chamber's Close Sidmouth Drill Hall replacement ATC Funding, 2011/12 = £100k
[ie, a total of £440k as reported above]
The following is from the leaflet handed out at the Drill Hall Campaign meeting of 17th April:
In 1895, Mr George G Radford donated a piece of land near the Ham for a new building to be built. This was to be called 'The Drill Hall'. Mr & Mrs R Hatton-Wood of 'Belmont' advanced money for the building work, £1,650. The building was opened on Tuesday 15th October 1895.
There were two inscription tablets, one each side of the entrance.
The left inscription read:
'The site of the hall was presented to the Volunteers of Sidmouth by J. Radford Esq of this town. The foundation stone was laid by Miss Constance Radford, on April 14th 1895'. The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs Kennet-Ware on 15th October 1895.
The right inscription read:
'Volunteer Drill Hall for 'B' Company 3rd V.B.D.R. Sir John H Kenaway Colonel; J. Albert Orchard, Captain 'B' Company; George H Vallance. Fred J Potbury. Lieutenants 'B' Company. James Jerman (Exeter) F.R.I.A. Honorary Architect R. Tucker & Sons (Sidmouth) Contractors. Cost £1,300'.
Many of the above names are still well known in the town now.
The Drill Hall has in turn been used as a cinema, a site for sports including badminton and ice skating, a dance hall, a live music venue, and the on site office of the Sidmouth Folk Festival.
At a meeting of East Devon District Council's cabinet in November 2011, council members approved a motion that the building be demolished and a car park built on the vacant site.
The cabinet allocated a budget of £48,038 to demolish the building.
Following campaigning by a local group in Sidmouth EDDC recently removed their application to demolish the building, and have given that group 6 months to provide an alternative use for the building that can be
put to the people of Sidmouth.
In the South West alone, a number of Drill Halls have been saved and regenerated as buildings for community use.
The local Sidmouth group used the Localism Act to force EDDC to remove the demolition application.
The Localism Act (passed by Parliament as law in April 2012) requires local authorities to maintain a list of assets of community value which have been nominated by the local community. When listed assets come up for sale or change of ownership, the Act then gives community groups the time to develop a bid and raise the money to bid to buy the asset when it comes on the open market. This will help local communities keep much-loved sites in public use and part of local life.