Thursday, 15 May 2014

Plans for Port Royal: the "real facts" about the Drill Hall

Over the last two weeks in the Herald, there has been quite some discussion about the past, present and future of the Drill Hall at Port Royal.

Here is a letter from Matt Booth of the Save Sidmouth Drill Hall campaign:

The real issue going on here...

Thursday,May 1, 2014 02:11 PM
I am writing in response to the letter in last week’s Herald from Chris Gibbings. (re: Sad to be leaving town in its state).

I was behind the campaign to stop the demolition of the Drill Hall.
I fought to stop demolition of the Drill Hall because of the complete lack of transparency in the decision making, because there was no plan ready for the area in its place (nor has there ever been), and importantly because it sits on land that is held in trust by the town council for the people of Sidmouth who were not consulted. Post demolition the space would apparently have become a small car park, though more likely it would have been left to rubble for who knows how long. What is without question is if the demolition process itself had not ruined the Sidmouth Trawlers family business, then the sea would certainly have done so in the recent storms without the Drill Hall as a barrier. I do not imagine that was factored into the plan for demolition, nor that the £48,000 set aside for the demolition work included compensation for their loss of trade. With the Bagwell’s business would have gone the last of the fishing heritage in the town. With that, what was once a vibrant part of the town would have become utterly bleak with Alma Bridge still not repaired after many years and Pennington Point rapidly eroding. 
A proposal could have been made to the cadets for the Drill Hall at any time up to 2011 and the town would now have control over the whole area. The problem is not the Drill Hall, but that it is now owned by EDDC.
Over the past two years I have attempted to maintain a dialogue on the future of the building with the leaders of EDDC. You can read more at www.sidmouthdrillhall.com and www.sidseafest.net
Matt Booth
The real issue going on here... - Letters - Sidmouth Herald - Mobile

Here is the response from Cllr Andrew Mouling and Cllr John Hollick:

Drill Hall facts

Saturday, May 10, 2014 7:15 AM

We feel it is imperative that someone puts the record straight about several aspects of the position regarding the Drill Hall in Sidmouth before a lot of people start chasing hares, so to speak.
In his letter (re:The real issue going on here... Herald, Friday, May 2) Matt Booth makes some less than accurate statements about the site of the Drill Hall. He also seems intent on stacking fears about the intentions of those involved.
So, for the record, here are the real facts about ownership of the Drill Hall site and neighbouring properties, as well as a perhaps less strident appraisal of the current situation:
Complete lack of transparency in the decision making – incorrect. Both EDDC and Sidmouth Town Council were open and clear about their aspirations for the hall as part of the wider regeneration of Port Royal. This included joint press releases where appropriate.
No plan ready for the area in its place (nor has there ever been) – incorrect. The hall stands within an area scheduled by EDDC for regeneration under a yet-to-be-agreed masterplan for Port Royal. The work done so far towards this aim is well documented – although it’s true that as yet there is no agreed proposal for the precise shape of any redevelopment project.
[The Hall] sits on land held in trust by the town council for the people of Sidmouth – incorrect. The hall and the land it sits on are the property of EDDC, which bought the site from the Ministry of Defence as part of a deal in which a new Cadet HQ was built at Stowford Rise, Sidmouth, at EDDC’s expense.
Post demolition, the space would apparently have become a small car park...not correct either. There was a suggestion that if the hall were demolished for safety reasons the empty site could be used as a temporary boat park by the sailing club. This didn’t happen because the hall was not demolished pending consideration of Mr Booth’s proposals.
There also seems to be a suggestion in the letter that the site rented by Sidmouth Trawlers and other fishermen is owned by EDDC. This is also not the case as in fact this plot of land is held in trust and by Sidmouth Town Council. The implication of the letter is that Mr Booth has attempted [unsuccessfully] to maintain a dialogue with EDDC. In fact, both EDDC’s chief executive and deputy chief executive have met and corresponded with Mr Booth on a number of occasions and have given him time to submit his own proposals for the Drill Hall.
Whilst Mr Booth may not have succeeded in moving his proposals forward, that is not the same as us having no dialogue. Both councils have a strong desire to see properly organised renewal of a part of Sidmouth that falls short of the town’s justifiable renown for seaside elegance.
Perhaps it would be useful to have a further meeting with Mr Booth to explore matters of common interest rather than kicking off a debate in the letters page of the local paper in what can only be described as an antagonistic style.
Councillor Andrew Moulding, EDDC cabinet member for Strategic Development 
and Partnerships.
Councillor John Hollick, chairman, Sidmouth Town Council.
Drill Hall facts - Letters - Sidmouth Herald

There will be more in tomorrow's Herald, but meanwhile, here are some links to the 'Drill Hall facts':

Application to demolish the Drill Hall:
EDDC budget £48k to demolish Sidmouth’s drill hall - News - Devon 24
00053TGHBU000 | Sidmouth Drill Hall The Esplanade Sidmouth
12/2254/COU | Demolition of former drill hall building and levelling/re-grading of base of site to form open air storage compound for boats and vehicles; existing pedestrian access on south end of site to be removed and new vehicle access route created at north end of site | Former Sidmouth Drill Hall The Esplanade Sidmouth

Withdrawal of the application:
East Devon District Council opens window for Drill Hall review | The Exeter DailyEast Devon

Town Council and the Drill Hall:
www.sidmouth.gov.uk/PDFs/STC Minutes 2009-10/stc-oct11.pdf

Save Sidmouth Drill Hall campaign:
sidmouthdrillhall | Save Sidmouth Drill Hall Campaign

Business Plan for the Drill Hall Hub - July 2013:
Drill Hall Article In Sidmouth Herald | sidmouthdrillhall

The Drill Hall Project - a national data base:
The Drill Hall Project> Database> Devon> Sidmouth

Posts from Save Our Sidmouth on the Drill Hall:
Drill Hall | Save Our Sidmouth

Questions of ownership of the Drill Hall site:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: who owns what
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: who owns what: Drill Hall

Alternative proposals for the Drill Hall site:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: alternative ideas
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: mixed development
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: Drill Hall alternatives
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: latest on the Drill Hall

Folk Festival and the Drill Hall:
Why I Love Sidmouth - feature article in the Living Tradition magazine
The Musicians’ Union strongly opposes East Devon District Council plans to demolish Sidmouth Drill Hall.

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