Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Plans for Port Royal and the Eastern Town >>> >>> >>> "We will get it right."

The on-line consultation to see what sort of development people would like down at Port Royal/the Eastern Town is gathering pace:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: complete the online questionnaire
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: "promoting high quality design and helping to create better places and environments"

A session with the public is happening this Saturday:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: architecture competition >>> drop-in session Saturday 9th January

Meanwhile, things are buzzing elsewhere:

Architecture competition for eastern town “part of a mix of ideas” , says Chair of Sidmouth Town Council

January 4, 2016 by sidmouthsid Leave a comment

At Sidmouth Town Council (STC) tonight, the architecture competition for eastern town was described as “a fantastic opportunity” (Cllr Dawn Manley) , and “a great initiative” (Cllr John Rayson). 

Chair, Jeff Turner was also supportive, saying he regarded the competition as “part of a mix” of ideas alongside those that would emerge from Sidmouth’s Neighbourhood Plan now being prepared by the Town Council, and from the District’s Local Plan. 

Cllr David Barratt, too, took an optimistic view. “It’s going to happen, let’s make it positive”, he urged his colleagues, emphasising that “it costs us nothing”, but with the proviso that “it must be open-ended”.

Cllr Ian Barlow found himself a lone voice amongst the councillors. In an untypically rambling speech criticising the competition as “too early”, he was straightaway countered by Cllr Dawn Manley. “It’s never too early”, she said, pointing out that “EDDC say they do want to work with the Town Council and with the public”.

Cllr Kelvin Dent welcomed the “crucial” scoping exercise about to be started by EDDC with STC, but added a note of caution. He asked the Chair, “In view of our contribution (£2,000 from STC, with £8,000 from EDDC), could I request that the Town Council be represented on the scoping exercise committee,” to ensure that we are involved in, for example, the choice of consultants?” The reply was not entirely reassuring. “I understand we still have to finalise the format for the scoping exercise” , Jeff Turner said.

At this point, the town clerk, Chris Holland, was invited to comment. “It is this council who will be leading the scoping exercise “, he vehemently claimed, adding, “I don’t care what’s happened in Exmouth and in Seaton” and “I don’t care what baggage EDDC brings with it. This is Sidmouth, and we will get it right”.

With this somewhat parochial assurance, the discussion was closed.

Architecture competition for eastern town “part of a mix of ideas” , says Chair of Sidmouth Town Council | Save Our Sidmouth
Architecture competition launched for Sidmouth’s eastern town | Save Our Sidmouth

Architecture competition launched for Sidmouth’s eastern town

Jackie G  in Sidmouth
You may have read about this in today's Sidmouth Herald.

An international architecture competition is being launched as a way to expand thinking around the redevelopment of the eastern town and raise awareness of public opinion of how the area should be developed. This novel idea could raise the profile of the town and spark debate.

The competition will be organised and independently co-ordinated by Henry Beech Mole, Associate Director of local practice RBM Architects. He will be supported by local residents and representatives of key groups coming together to form the Eastern Town Partnership. Cathy Gardner and Marianne Rixson are pleased to give support to the project and will help put the group together, to advise on and guide the gathering of information and the development of the competition brief. “If you are approached by someone brandishing a clip board in the Port Royal or Mill Street area, please don’t turn away! We’d like as many people as possible to give their views and get involved in this project” said Cathy Gardner, “It’s also important that this project is seen as complementary to any work done for the Neighbourhood Plan, which will start early in 2016.”

“We hope to engage residents with proposals that we would not have come up with on our own”, said Marianne Rixson, “The opportunity to work with award-winning architects does not come along very often; it’s a great opportunity for Sidmouth”. Cathy and Marianne are two of the ward members representing Sidmouth on East Devon District Council.

This first phase of the project will be to gather data and opinions from local residents, community groups and businesses in order to develop a coherent and community-driven vision for the area. This will inform the development of the brief for an open international architecture competition, where architects, designers, and artists can propose a new vision for the eastern side of town.

The information-gathering exercise will start immediately and continue into the New Year. The first consultation is now open online and closes on 31st January. To get involved please visit http://www.easterntownpartnership.com/ or contacthenry@rbmarchitects.com
    Mary W-T
    I hope everyone gets involved in this.

    We don't want to end up making Sidmouth less attractive to tourists, in fact we want to pull more people in. So let's be as creative as possible.

    I don't want to see another huge slab of a building like Trinity Court appear there.

    But that is just my opinion. Everyone needs to give theirs too.
    By the Byes
    OK, at the risk of being hugely unpopular – here’s my two pen’th.

    Develop the whole thing, which means flattening the existing drill hall, relocating the Lifeboat station, and using the whole area up to the swimming pool. Access to a decent sized two level car park will provide additional parking for the facilities …

    Sidmouth as a tourist destination does not appeal greatly to families – and nor should it. I say this as there are umpteen failing seaside resorts which cater for the young, Sidmouth’s strength is as an adult location, it is fairly unique in that regard, and should continue to do so. That said, it currently (as a tourist destination) tends to appeal to the 80 years-and-over visitor, which it needs to reel back by a few decades. Appealing to the late forties/ fifties/younger retiree’s means offering something currently unavailable here – good bars, restaurants, bistros, and outdoor dining for those glorious summer evenings we’re so used to.

    Yes, currently we have some lovely café’s here in town, but few are open after 5.30pm, and most can’t serve you a glass of wine as they have no licence to do so. The hotels mainly cater for the aforementioned over 80’s, and not only the food is aimed in their direction, but the décor is too.

    Question: Where are the tapas bars? The bistros? The intimate little Italian restaurants?

    Answer: Topsham. Fine riverside location though it is, Topsham has nothing like what Sidmouth can offer, yet is currently doing an excellent job of creating exactly the environment that will secure it’s future.

    To return to the Eastern Town plan, build an U shaped courtyard arrangement with shops, bars and restaurants, opening out to the sea at the front. Plenty of tables and chairs for those fine summer evenings. Car parking at the rear, as stated above, access from the existing swimming pool facilities.

    Do not, I repeat do not, waste this invaluable resource on housing, or car parking, or any other mundane scheme. It is Sidmouth’s only remaining hope of attracting the sort of visitor numbers that will guarantee it’s future.

    As I said, at the risk of being unpopular …

    Truly Scrumptious
    Before launching a competition on redesigning the Eastern end of Sidmouth,surely the first priority is to secure there and the rest of the commercial side of the town from flooding via the increased cliff falls that have occurred in recent years. I bet the residents that live in that area are extremely worried about the effect that this stormy weather is having on that edge of town. Otherwise, it may be a case similar to the many homes in the UK that have been allowed to develop on flood plains - disaster and heartache!
    Old Fozzie
    I'll go with that BTB, but while they are at it, lets have a large mole built to create a marina and home for the yatch club, fishing boats and lifeboat. This would also protect a large portion of the cliffs from destruction by the sea and enable the rebuilding of the Alma bridge, but properly constructed in depth, like the one at lyme regis could provide tourist attractions, cafe, icecream kiosk etc, lets think BIG and get it right rather than fiddle around the edges...
    Mary W-T
    I think the redesign of the eastern end needs to encompass cliff and storm protection, and that is why it is a good idea to throw it open to designers worldwide. As well as it being good marketing for Sidmouth.

    I thought the fact that the Councils commented that it is too early to do this shows they really don't understand the design process. If a competition to attract ideas is being run by an independent person then that is good, and binds the Councils to nothing. Designers of any sort don't just pluck ideas out of thin air. It takes time to research the brief and time to draw up plans.

    At the moment all the competition is doing is collecting information via a questionnaire in order to formulate some sort of design brief which can be given to architects and designers. There is nothing threatening in this. I have been and filled it in, and although I think some of the questions are a bit too simple you do have the chance to make comments which can clarify your answers.

    People from the town need to say what they want to see there or we have no room for complaint when the council does what they want.
    Peter M
    This is a terrific debate to kick off the New Year with some great comments so far. I like Bye the Byes visionary thinking, but Sidmouth and Topsham demographics are quite different. Topsham has Exeter on the doorstep which hugely increases the catchment area to provide custom for restaurants and wine bars into the evening, whereas Sidmouth is nowhere near as spontaneously accessible.

    I am most drawn to the concept of a marina-style development with integrated coastal defences. Such a development would be in keeping with our enviable coastal location and heritage. The promenade would gain a marine-oriented attraction, and the environs set back from the sea front incorporating The Ham would attract retail and catering entrepreneurs.

    I dont see that demolishing the Drill Hall would be a desirable thing to do; rather I would like to see it it incorporated into the architecture of the Marina development, linking Sidmouth's past with a natural evolution and development.

    Thank you Mary W-T for your balanced comments. And Happy New Year to all Sidmouthians.
    By the Byes
    Peter M, we can certainly agree on Old Fozzie’s suggestion of creating a marina that would not only provide further attraction to the town, but double up as shore-line defence - on the other points I beg to differ.

    The development would be in order to change the demographic, not pander to the existing situation. We cannot continue catering for the over eighties, and must find ways to appeal to a “younger”, though distinctly adult, visitor.
    I believe this impossible if we take half measures, to this end retaining the existing drill hall would leave the architects with one hand tied behind their backs, and I must add – I see no merit in the building whatsoever.

    If we’re to move forward, then let’s do so in bold steps, and not on tiptoe, one inch at a time.
    Nick D
    BtB - I concur with you, wholeheartedly! At last an opportunity to shake out those that seem to want to see Sidmouth permanently submerged in aspic!
    Jackie G
    Two ways of getting your great ideas registered....either online right now  at www.easterntownpartnership.com . Or at the Public Information ‘drop-in’session, Sat 9 January, 10 a.m to 12p.m, in the Leigh Browne Room at the Old Meeting Dissenters’ Chapel (opposite Tesco).

    The consultation can be completed on the spot (technical help will be on hand) for those wishing to do so, and/or/ who don’t have online access. Refreshments available. Donations welcome to cover costs. Organised by the Eastern Town Partnership www.easterntownpartnership.com ‘
    Mary W-T
    BtB, your feelings about the Drill Hall are understandable unless you know as much about it as I do :-0

    The original building looked quite different as is shown by a photo I have from the Museum, it was changed in about 1930 by removing the ornamental caps from the pillars at each side and from the apex of the roof. The windows on the front were changed from bay windows to the flat ones you see today and some ornamental recessed arches holding information plaques seem to have been filled in. The balcony down the side was also removed. This seems to have been an attempt to bring it 'up to date' by making it look more Art Deco.

    It is not impossible that some of these things might inform a future design for reusing the Drill Hall.

    It is also not often mentioned that the main hall area is about the same size as the hall of the Community Centre at Stowford, it was not built just to provide a drill space for the Volunteers but to provide a community and tourist space for meetings and dances as well.

    I have asked on here before for any old photos because I really am researching it seriously. I have newspaper articles about it from its planning stage in 1895 through to the 50s.
    Peter M
    Thoughtful comments. When I lived in Singapore I watched them bulldoze their heritage and way of life into oblivion in order to build a modern city state. Later they realised what they had lost and tried to recreate some of the old charm to regain the tourist attraction element.

    It will be interesting to see how architects see the incorporation of the drill hall's architecture (as it was in its heyday) - to retain or to demolish.

    Re changing the demographic of visitors, I agree completely. My family used to live in Weston Super Mare, and one of the most adventurous hotel entrepreneurs there gave up trying to make money out of catering because of the low spending power of visitors to the town. He sold up and the hotel is now apartments.

    If the Port Royal area is to be the focus then of creating a new attraction, then the limited land available should be used primarily for the attractions themselves, rather than for modern housing developments, in my opinion. The area is not like say The Barbican in Plymouth which successfully converted old warehouses into apartments and shops; whatever we build will be new.

    Let's hope we can avoid some of the architectural disasters around where the new build is utterly out of kilter with the past and the environment. (I would mention some parts of Weston Super Mare sea front as one example, and whole swathes of the South Coast of France as another),

    I hope that whatever we build there, it will move Sidmouth forward to bringing new business and vitality to the town, whilst preserving the fine features and timeless charm that moved John Betjeman to write about it.
    Peter M
    Mary I must have seen a picture somewhere of the Drill Hall from the time you mention; it was quite a lovely building with surrounding space as you imply, and it is those old features that are part of the town's architecture.
    By the Byes
    Peter M, I think we’re pretty much on the same wavelength, as I stated in my first post, (see above) the idea would be to create the sort of attractions that would attract visitors some decades younger than we currently do, i.e. good restaurants, bistros and tapas bars spilling out onto a central seating area, with the front open to the sea. To this end, the drill hall would have to go, as it sits just about where the entrance would need to be. I’m sure from what Mary WT says, it was once a far more glorious structure than it now is, but right now it’s a mess, and one that stands amongst a row of other messy, ugly buildings, culminating in the public loos. Furthermore, this development would not be directly linked to the far more important Regency section of the seafront, as Trinity Court stands between the two, and hence leaving one old building in place would just not make sense.

    There are no other sites along the seafront that could be used to take Sidmouth forward. If we leave the Drill Hall in place, then we consign Sidmouth to the past. The old guard who visit Sidmouth twice a year, stay all-inclusive in the same hotels, wander along the seafront to Fields, then back to the hotel for afternoon tea will soon die out. The new wave of 80 year olds who follow on do not visit Sidmouth - they go on cruises or fly to the Caribbean for the winter. (Bizarrely, it’s cheaper to go on a cruise than spend a week in Sidmouth…)

    Without question whatever is built would need to be done with great style and ingenuity to ensure it did not become a blot on the seascape within a decade, but that’s a decision a long way in the future.
    Peter M
    By the Byes, your points are entirely valid, and I hope this forum on the topic and others will find continued positive contributions from all with a vision for Sidmouth's future. I hope architects entering the competition will find some pointers here about how people feel, and it will be easier for all of us to comment once the entries are in.

    My last home was in Ealing, London W5 and although it's a much larger town, it too needed regeneration to move it forward and stop the drift away. The big developers submitted ambitious townscapes with plazas and high rise buildings, all of which were completely out of character with Ealing's historic architecture and verdant places.

    The townsfolk simply would not have it and the proposals were much modified; the developments taking place now make optimum use of available space (think demolition) whilst preserving character and historic amenities.

    I hope the people of Sidmouth will bring similar energies to bear as we move forward, and strive for a consensus among the various interested parties.
    Mary W-T
    Please don't let Trinity Court have more influence on Sidmouth!

    If we look at many modern buildings we find they need knocking down after quite a short time, so let's develop the east end as if Trinity Court didn't exist.

    I know many people dislike the toilets but they are from 1929 ( with later removal of glass partitions) and give people somewhere to sit as well as a welcome facility!

    I agree we need to attract the new middle-aged heading toward elderly but toilet facilities are quite useful to all age groups.

    Talking of age groups, I have just been along the Esplanade and seen pleanty of people from children to elderly. Let's not assume children don't enjoy Sidmouth.
    By the Byes
    Mary WT - you misread me if you think I suggest Trinity Court be used as an example - I merely pointed out it creates a barrier between the Regency frontage and whatever is developed at Port Royal.
    You're quite right, we'll need public loos, but there's no reason why new ones can't be incorporated into the scheme.
    If you can think of anywhere else on the seafront that Sidmouth can possibly go forward, rather stay rooted in the last century, I'd appreciate being told where that might be. As it stands, I think Port Royal is the last chance saloon for this glorious town we all love so much.
    Old Fozzie
    The only other improvement I can suggest to the front is one I made earlier on a different thread.
    During the off season dig out the cricket pitch and create an underground car park with entrance and exit direct onto the front, where the surf club store etc is, an alternative pedestrian exit can be behind the fort cafe onto the ramp between the car park and croquet pitch.
    It could be built in stages and extended over several years.
    Once car park complete put the cricket pitch back on top...
    Mary W-T
    BtB I'm sorry if my comment came across badly, I was not meaning to seem confrontational.

    What I was trying to express was my feeling that just because Trinity Court forms a nasty break between Port Royal and the rest of the Esplanade that is no reason for not extending the great feeling of most of Sidmouth's buildings all the way along.

    I am not against moving with the times, or looking for ways to make Sidmouth better and Port Royal is indeed a wonderful opportunity which is unlikely to occur again unless we get it horrendously wrong and subsequent generations have to bulldoze it as an eyesore!

    Sidmouth has a wonderful selection of architecture from the castellated roof lines at Amyatts Terrace, through the tasteful Regency along most of the Esplanade to the exuberant decoration on Woodlands. Surely we have something which will give inspiration for Port Royal?
    Old Fozzie
    Of course it's possible and any architect worth his/her salt would create something in keeping.
    The regency canopies could be echoed in those on the frontage of the new buildings, maybe to create al fresco dining areas to the Tapas bars and resteraunts etc, it must be possible to make a 3 sided plaza open to the seaward with upper balconies and canopied lower levels, I could design that myself...
    In fact I might just do that!
    Keep your eyes peeled for the next thrilling installment.
    Den den derrrr!
    By the Byes
    Mary WT, apologies, I certainly wasn't trying to cause offense either, just trying to explain my earlier missive.
    I think Old Fozzie's absolutely right, we need to give the right brief to the right architect, which is hopefully the whole purpose here.
    I know Jackie G posted the original link to http://www.easterntownpartnership.com/,
    I'd urge everyone to fill in the questionnaire.
    (N.B. though a beautiful website to look at, the navigation is not intuitative, you need to hunt round for the form.....)
    Henry B
    Dear All,

    I represent the architecture practice carrying out the independent consultation with a view to developing the brief for the competition.  I'm very encouraged that this has generated debate around the development of the Eastern Town, and will endeavor to incorporate all views expressed here into the information collecting exercise.  Our hope is that, through a democratic and accountable process, we can produce a collective response to the needs of the town and formulate a detailed brief that will attract a plural set of ideas for the future of Sidmouth.

    I would like briefly to address a couple of points raised:

    1. The survey element of the consultation forms about 5-10% of the consultation.  It is simply a basic set of questions that cover the key aspects of the area, and what we should do with them.  The consultation will be comprehensive, and is currently projected to run for at least 3-4 months, involving various stages  This is 1 of 10.

    2. Regarding the sea defenses, we are currently in discussion with the staff at the Marine Engineering School at the University of Plymouth to provide a report the implications of rising sea levels and threat to flooding.  This will be incorporated into the brief.

    3. Regarding the architectural style, we plan to include a detailed set of drawings and photographs of the site and detailed history of the town's Regency heritage.  It will be up to individual designers to respond to the brief, but our hope is that a contextual approach will be taken.

    4. Regarding a proposed marina, this is at the discretion of the entrants of the competition, and some of the history of this proposal will be included within the brief.

    5. Regarding entries to the competition, it is not only limited to architects.  Our hope is that designers, artists, urbanists, students, and anyone else who is inclined to enter does so.  I would just add, that the competition is an urban one, dealing with a physical place, and so that a successful entry is likely to be a building/landscape/etc.

    6. Regarding the website, I apologise if anyone is having trouble navigating through it.  It has been built to accommodate the publication of the 10 phases of the consultation - and so hopefully its layout will make sense later on in the process.  Meanwhile, the survey can be accessed directly here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/W3NZH5Q

    7. Finally, if anyone has any specific questions about the process, they are more than welcome to contact me.  My email address is henry@rbmarchitects.com Please be aware that we will do our best to respond to enquiries within a few hours, however our services in developing the consultation and brief are being provided for free, and so replies are more likely to be provided at evenings and weekends.

    Please do let me know if you have any thoughts or queries.

    Henry Beech Mole
    Hello All and Happy New Year

    What a wonderful idea this is, perhaps I should say Happy New Era.

    I wanted to just add in that, although the term Regency is often used casually when describing architecture, please don't forget that the Regency actually only lasted for 9 years. It is often limited to describing the highly decorated rococo style of buildings in Brighton. However, John Nash designed the terraces of Regent street during, or just before the Regency.

    Many of the buildings that are so admired in Sidmouth are earlier, more austere Georgian architecture.

    Fortfield Terrace, so often called Regency, is in fact Georgian with Victorian additions of the balconies. It is a precursor of the style developed by Nash whereby a uniform terrace contains many different designs and sizes of houses within the terrace. Unfortunately all the London examples of terraces by Novosielski (FT architect) have now been destroyed. The older pictures of Sidmouth show the plainer Georgian brick frontage of FT before the Victorians rendered the terrace in white and added the balconies.

    The Victorians also gave us many examples of the cottages ornes. Examples of these can be seen alongside the river and up Peak Hill. Although the ex-National Trust building on Peak Hill (now in private ownership and much enhanced) is in fact a copy built in the 1920s and probably designed by Samson.

    Oh, and of course the other main influence on Sidmouth grandeur is our local architect Samson.

    But let's not forget the much earlier maritime history of Sidmouth in the architecture of the fishing village. This has given Sidmouth many, many small domestic cottages which are really delightful.

    I'm quite a fan of good modern design integrating with earlier design, rather than a modern copy. Even when Quinlan Terry takes absolute control of the details of his copy (as in the riverside development in Richmond) I think it is a lost opportunity for celebrating something really modern and beautiful. Other copies compromise on details and proportions in the interests of profit and are just awful 'copies' in my opinion.
    The Georgian architects would most certainly have used the wonderful modern developments in glass, gluelam timber, plastics, etc. to enhance their designs and so should we. We could look to many of the fantastic modern maritime architecture in towns in northern Norway or Finland for examples of adventurous use of materials in a harsh environment..

    The Georgian buildings, because of the limitations of their materials, don't stand up well to the weather in Sidmouth and attempts to copy them often have many of the faults of Georgian architecture in terms of weather-proofing (such as in Sanditon, where the parapet gutter appears to have the same problem as we often have in FT - wind drives the rain up over the lead flashing unless it is dressed about 3 times higher than usual).

    I'm on the Beach Management Plan Steering Group and will try to ensure that due consideration is given to this competition during their discussions. But it is probably the other way round - the architects' brief needs to give due consideration to the proposals that will emerge from the BMP.

    Good luck to all the architects and well done to Cathy and Marianne for starting this competition off.
    Jackie G
    Thanks, Jo, for all that added information. This competition seems to be based on consultation with everyone...so imagine that the BMP proposals will be an important consideration.
    Just one point..From what the Herald says,the competition was Henry's Beech-Mole's initiative, not Cathy and Marianne's, though fully agree that they should be thanked for supporting it.
    Mary W-T
    Thank you Henry B-M.

    As I suspected the time scale for the consultation will tie in with the scoping project and so the councils are worrying unecessarily about it being premature!

    I really appreciate you and your team putting in all this voluntary effort.

    Perhaps I will challenge Old Fozzie with some designs of my own? We could have an informal streetlife competition perhaps?
    Peter M
    Thanks Henry B for joining it and starting to draw all the threads together. What a great start to to 2016.
    Peter M
    Henry, re the Marina. The idea of a jetty has been mentioned earlier so Sidmouth could be added to the list of coastal cruises. (Stuart line might be interested!) And in the plaza could be informal food stalls, bars and eateries also mentioned elsewhere. Build it, and they will come - and not by car!
    Mary W-T
    This may be a little off the point but I was very surprised to discover that different sorts of cargoes were being taken to and fro simply from the beach at Port Royal, no jetty involved.

    They brought coal in for the gas works and town and had what is described in the newspapers as a crab, perhaps they meant grab, to do the unloading. There must have been a lot of coal coming in for the gas works so presumably they must have been fairly large boats with shallow drafts.
    barking mad
    I am concerned about how the extra traffic will access the new buildings and businesses when the site is developed. The roads of Sidmouth are narrow but this is part of the charm of our town. Maybe park and ride from Mutters Moor and/or Knowle.
    Richard E

    All points well made.

    Sidmouth's early architecture is a bit more interesting than we think:  the current compilation of listed buildings held by the District Council consistently gets the dates wrong, almost always citing a date ten or fifteen years too late.   We know the true dates from Peter Orlando Hutchinson.   They indicate that Sidmouth's architecture at the turn of the 19th century was very cutting edge.   It would be useful one day for someone to tell EDDC the correct dates.
    John R
    No doubt about it, Sidmouth's east end is a depressing build up to a depressing tarmac turning circle and a massively wasted opportunity. And beyond it are those stunning Jurassic World heritage Cliffs
    I'm with Fozzie and By-the- Byes in terms of how Sidmouth is going to make itself more appealing to a wider range of Tourist and local visitors to avoid decline like so many other UK seaside towns.
    So I'd go with the boat mole (a base for the sailing club? ) and the local plaza. If you look at our neighbouring towns like Exmouth and Seaton, they also have limited entertaining and seating areas by the sea. Lets make ourselves different in this way as well. And provide a reason for people to come here both tourist and local. Maybe the area could have facilities/space for amateur and semi-pro street entertainers and musicians - we certainly have plenty of bands, choirs, am-dram, artists in Sidmouth that could use such an area and further improve local community cohesion. I think the era of shops sitting and waiting for customers has gone, the Town needs to provide a reason to come. Think of a mini Covent Garden by the sea. The Folk Festival provides a base for it.
    The scale of the development would have to be realistic and preferably with large covered area (Not enclosed). Steps to sit on as well as eateries.
    But lets not follow EDDC down the road of reduced parking, the town has to pull people in (and also pull in its local population from the elongated hinterland with the sea barrier at one side). Its fine to build loads of houses but only if we the environment and businesses with the related job opportunities.
    Old Fozzie
    Barking mad, See earlier comment re potential development of cricket field for additional seafront parking.

    Streetlife | Architecture competition launched for Sidmouth’s eastern town

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