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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> reference group to meet today as process nears completion

The Scoping Study for Port Royal is nearing completion:

JUNE:
> Scoping Study consultation >> proposals now available 

JULY:
> Scoping Study consultation > an overview of the maps and the options 
> Scoping Study consultation > a full analysis and a proper alternative scoping study 
> Scoping Study consultation > Vision Group report 2012
> Scoping Study consultation >> "People have been pleased that the Councils had not leapt ahead with detailed plans or designs and were not presenting the initial findings as a fait-a-compli." 
> "There are no proposals, no plans and no schemes being put forward." 

AUGUST:
> Scoping Study consultation > SVA response
> Scoping Study consultation > calls for the site to be developed "imaginatively and conservatively" 
> Scoping Study consultation > 'No plans or designs are being considered or decided on at this stage, purely the possibility of improvement and viability of the important seafront site.' 
> Scoping Study consultation and "independent experts" 
> Scoping Study consultation update

SEPTEMBER:
> Scoping Study consultants' report due to be presented to Reference Group > Thursday 21st September 
> "Nothing is decided" > full report 
> "It is important to start a project with no preconceptions about what should be removed or retained in order to achieve the desired result." 

Later today, the Reference Group will be meeting with the consultants who will present their draft report. Here's an overview from the Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue site:




Dear Friends,

I thought it was time I wrote to clarify where the campaign to save the Drill Hall fits within the Retain-Refurbish-Reuse campaign.

The campaign for the Drill Hall still exists as a separate entity, it is in full support of the aims of 3Rs as they exist at the moment but it is not going to disappear into the larger campaign. Neither does the aim to save the Drill Hall limit the ideas 3Rs are willing to consider, the Drill Hall is just one of the buildings on the site. It is therefore incorrect and foolish of people to try to claim that 3Rs are only concerned with saving the Drill Hall no matter what effect that has on the other users of Port Royal.

It is also wrong to suggest that those who want to save the Drill Hall want to do so any price. The reasoning behind saving the Drill hall is that it will be an asset to the town, not that everything which has ever been built should be kept. If I didn't believe that there were many viable uses for the hall I would just be advocating it being properly recorded before demolition to free up the space.

The 3Rs campaign has garnered a lot of support, around 2,000 signatures so far. Being part of this campaign is the best way forward for the Drill Hall at the moment. However, there has also been a lot of vitriol aimed at the campaign and we need to help counter that. All of us need to have facts at our fingertips so that we can correct unsubstantiated allegations from those who want to demolish everything at Port Royal and start again.

One comment which seems to be being made quite frequently is that EDDC spent a lot of money to acquire the Drill Hall and that the District as a whole needs some sort of pay back for this. The figure quoted is £600,000.
There are two fallacies in this position. One is that the total cost to EDDC of the land swap and building of replacement facilities for the Cadets was £550,000 according to the Herald report at the time, the other is that every part of East Devon receives and contributes the same amount to the District.

Sidmouth was promised when the planning application for Sanditon was passed that £1.5 million would go from that development into affordable housing in Sidmouth and to the tourist economy in Sidmouth to make up for the loss of hotel accommodation. Over the years this changed and most of the money has gone to the District, investing in a revived Drill Hall would be 'pay back' for this loss.

Of course Sidmouth will also lose when all the Council employment moves from the town to elsewhere, and the proposed Knowle developments give practically nothing back. It is worth noting that the new CIL payments, even if they apply to any Knowle redevelopment, have to be split between town and District because it is a Community Infrastructure Levy. The town would get 15% of the money ( increasing to 25% if we have a Neighbourhood Plan in place) and bear all of the loss. The same would apply, of course, to any redevelopment at Port Royal: do not be fooled that a great deal of the money would benefit the town or go towards paying for the sea defences.

The meeting of the Port Royal Reference Group tonight (21st Sept 2017) is therefore of huge importance to the town. They are the ones who were supposed to be informing the Consultants and making sure they didn't come up with inappropriate ideas, but couldn't as they only met them once before the day the ideas were shown to the public.

It is to be hoped that the public response to the Consultation has given the Reference Group more status and that they will feel able to move the proposals into a more acceptable track. However, this statement on the EDDC website is not heartening. It acknowledges the Consultant's survey and the Neighbourhood Plan survey but completely ignores the petition which numerically almost equals both put together.

Kind regards,
Mary



Reference Group meeting today
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