We are now entering the next stages for what will happen to the Drill Hall and possibly the wider context of Port Royal: the District Council have come up with a shortlist of three potential plans and are now in the process of conducting more in-depth interviews:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: Drill Hall bids to be considered
It is clear, however, that once a purchaser has been selected that a great deal of work will still have to be undergone before contracts are exchanged - because very little preparation has been carried out by the District Council for this sale:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: how to become 'preferred bidder' >>> score highest against a range of set criteria, which includes economic impact, design and regeneration potential
And the questions which were raised at the beginning of this process still remain largely unanswered:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: questions raised at full District Council meeting > and more questions
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: questions raised at full District Council meeting > press reports
There are certainly questions over the original tender document which was sent out - and how much detail it contained - for example, the extent to which any future Beach Management Plan will impact on the Drill Hall site:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: the official video
The District Council will be aware of the flood and erosion risk to the development site - but it is not clear to what extent any of the bidders were:
Futures Forum: Plans to “hold the line” on England's coastline – building defences to keep shores in their current position – are proving unaffordable
Futures Forum: "If Pennington Point goes another four or five metres, the River Sid will become the sea - and Sidmouth will be under water."
And any developer would pay less for a site that floods compared to one that
does not, as flood defences would have to be built into the design of the
development and would be one of the pre-commencement conditions:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal and the Eastern Town >>> apartments over car parks
There are also rather grey areas around the ownership of the site:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >>> of covenants and land-swapping at Port Royal
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: who owns what
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: 'further investigations in respect of flooding and covenants' needed
But of course, the Drill Hall site is part of the larger Port Royal site - and the District Council's own consultants had thought a development of the larger site might not be viable:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: 'the redundant Drill Hall site remains a more straightforward and viable opportunity for redevelopment and reuse'
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: 'not seeking a mixed development for the overall site and ... marketing of the Drill Hall only'
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: 'Council proposes to drop regeneration plans and sell the Drill Hall'
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> Scoping Study consultants' "final report" published
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: spending £10k on a report with 'a level of detail and analysis of the area which had been previously available' - simply to prove that redevelopment is not viable
The point being, that most would prefer the whole site to be tackled, rather than a piecemeal selling off - as MP Sir Hugo Swire's recent poll of Sidmouth businesses underlined:
Do you believe that the redevelopment of Port Royal and the adjacent area should be looked at as a whole rather than in smaller developments? Yes – 36 (85.7%)
Futures Forum: How to revive the health of Sidmouth's high street >>> >>> East Devon MP's survey results
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: businesses oppose seawall and stakeholders demand clarity