Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >>> and developing the Ham...

The Scoping Exercise for the regeneration of Port Royal remains very unclear:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >>> Scoping Report and Project Brief >>> 26 questions
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >>> Scoping Report and Project Brief >>> questions

It is clear, however, that 'fact-finding' is at the heart of this exercise - and several such 'facts' are already available and have been for some time.

This is the first posting on this blog, from April 2013:
Futures Forum: Port Royal future: ‘Let’s get the community on board’

Together with the PR steering group's report from 2012:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Community Engagement Brief

And more from April 2013:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: who owns what
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: who owns what: Drill Hall

With a very recent update from the Sidmouth Drill Hall Research Site:

Land registry documents

Land registry documents about the Ham and surrounding areas are very important when looking at possible redevelopment.

There is confusion about who owns what, and what can be done with it, in the Port Royal area. This confusion is not only on the part of the general public but also sometimes on the part of the Councils.

For example, on a page on the East Devon District Council website about what land is owned by them they claim the whole of the Esplanade right round to Alma Bridge, but not the land on which the toilets are built.

Land registry documents (DN 322835, 1992) tell a slightly different story. According to them the EDDC owns land both sides of the turning circle but it is held subject to the terms of the conveyance of the Ham from Mr Radford to Sidmouth Urban District Council in 1896. So they are not free to do with it as they would wish. They can not close it to the public nor erect any permanent structure on it taller than 7 ft in height.

They also have registered the land between the Esplanade wall and the Sid, on the conveyance from Radford to Sidmouth UDC part this land is shown as the Ham. Of course it is all complicated by the work to limit the extent of the Sid and by the fact that the bridge shown in 1896 was replaced in 1900 and may be in a slightly different position.

It is of interest how land forming part of the Ham was disposed of by the Town to the District when it was part of a gift made to the Town; and indeed how it was legal to build the shelter and toilet block when it exceeds 7 ft in height.

I presume that one of the tasks for the Scoping Exercise now being started by both Town and District will be to sort out anomalies like these.

The following drawing has been made from an amalgamation of several Land Registry documents and shows registered land ownership in that small area of town. I have not included documents which show ownership of the Sailing Club, Lifeboat Station and car parks although I do have copies of them.

Land registry documents - Sidmouth Drill Hall Research Site

Questions about current ownership and projected plans for the site are still not settled, however:

Will the Ham be in Sidmouth redevelopment plan?

04 October 2016 Stephen Sumner

A view of the eastern end of the town. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7858-10-09SH

An historian’s fears the Ham could be built upon when Port Royal is redeveloped have been echoed by a Sidmouth representative.

Mary Walden-Till, who has been researching the history of the Drill Hall, said the seafront space is the only property in the area not owned by East Devon District Council (EDDC) – so it may try to assume ownership.

Councillor Matt Booth shared her concerns that the authority may try to facilitate a ‘swap’ for another piece of land and said the process needs more public scrutiny.

EDDC and Sidmouth Town Council – the latter of which is trustee for the Ham after it was left to the resort in a covenant – said it is too early to pre-empt what the results of a ‘scoping’ study for Port Royal will be.

The scoping exercise will look at any restrictions and covenants to determine exactly what is possible and what is not.

Mrs Walden-Till, who has been looking through Land Registry documents, said: “Given that EDDC owns the land on which stand the lifeboat station, the sailing club, the Drill Hall, the toilets, the swimming pool and the Ham car parks, this leaves only the Ham to be a Sidmouth Town Council land contribution to the redevelopment.

“To effect a ‘swap’, Sidmouth Town Council, as trustee, would have to show that the replacement land would be able to fulfil the same function for residents and visitors as that stated in the conveyance. I would contend that moving the charitable land away from the tourist area of Sidmouth would mean it could not be – as the Charity Commission requires – ‘an equally suitable property’.”

EDDC’s cabinet last week gave the go-ahead to a £10,000 scoping exercise for Port Royal – but not before concerns were voiced that the project brief was not sufficiently ‘clear and robust’.

Among the issues, Cllr Booth contested that the Ham is not town council-owned, but held in trust by it for the people of Sidmouth.

He added: “Therefore, the issue of public consultation takes on a whole new level of importance and it is depressing that EDDC has to date said only that there will be one public meeting in the scoping study and it will not entertain or confirm any further public consultation. Call me cynical, but that could lead one to think that they have already considered all this and will be setting out their stall either for a land swap or, if it comes to it, compulsory purchase.”

In a joint statement, EDDC and Sidmouth Town Council said: “The [scoping] study is merely asking the questions and providing the answers. It is then up to the councils to decide themselves – democratically and publicly at the end of the process – what they wish to do with the results, which will come before both councils in the new year. It is far too early in the process to pre-empt what the results may be.”

Will the Ham be in Sidmouth redevelopment plan? - News - Sidmouth Herald

With a debate from a month or two ago on Streetlife discussing these points further:


Peter S

Good ideas, and others in the past have mentioned similar.
Couple of challenges to overcome, but nothing at this stage should be ruled out.
1. The Ham has a covenant attached from when it was given to the Town regarding it's use and also what building is allowed on it.
2. The South West Water pumping station has equipment not just by the riverside but underneath the Ham, including a macerator which the Town Council have tried in the past to be removed.
The more ideas that are put to the powers that be, the better.

Mary W-T

So Peter are you saying that the Lifeboat Station and the Sailing/Gig Club building will NOT be knocked down and removed in order for the redevelopment to take place?

Is it more realistic to assume from the experience we all have with redevelopments that the land will be cleared first, or that a very large development will work round what is already there? If the latter is the case then surely the map ED03 would have excluded the area of the above mentioned buildings?

As for councillors meeting in secret, of course they do. We all know that they have to have the freedom to discuss some things which are at a stage where the public should not be involved. EDDC have worked very hard to explain that to us over the Knowle.

I would like to thank the many people who have expressed support, both publicly and privately, for me rather than assuming I am attempting to twist facts.

TS I agree that an open area where the turning circle is would be very good, and we do need to cater for children better. I would like to have areas for teenagers and for small children kept separate so the little ones can trundle about without getting under the feet of the faster moving!

The conveyance of which Peter speaks can be seen in a copy (supplied by the Land Registry) on my website.
Peter S

I am not saying that they will not be knocked down, what I am saying is there is no plan in place at this time to show that they will.
How do we know what a developer may want, do they want all the area, which would include the current buildings, and then have a cost of replacing the 2 essential ones (Lifeboat / Sailing Club) put against their profits, or, would they prefer to leave them in place and develop the rest of the area with the number of 30 accommodation units and make more money. We are a long way off getting an answer to this, with so many variables in place at the moment, when we get these in place, that is when we can answer the question.
Councillors do meet in private, but some of the commentators / groups in this area, see this as not being democratic or restricting openness, glad you are not the only one to have the common sense to see that it sometimes essential.

... ...

Peter S
If a developer wished to have a number of units that were "expensive" to pay for a development that people need and want, that is the way forward, they can then offset some money to go towards affordable / social housing elsewhere. The "Ham" as it is legally at the moment, as you say cannot be built on, so unless another alternative to replace this can be found ( and it could be an alternative) it will never be built on. So no need for your imaginary skyscraper to be built, there are always alternatives.
Mary W-T
That is a very interesting thought Peter.

So you envisage the Ham land being included in the redevelopment area?
Peter S
I put that in as an alternative thought, remember the Ham on the original map, has been built on by the water pumping station, and part of it was taken by the road turning circle, so nothing is off the table at this stage, oh just remembered should also include the old boat park. Even if no development is made on the Ham it would still be the ideal time to look at maybe a recreation use and equipment update. All this at the moment is of cause completely hypothetical, but I am still convinced that we need to demolish the DH
Mary W-T
Glad to know that nothing is off the table at this stage ..... does that include retaining the Drill Hall?  ;-)
It could be, you never know, but I would not put any money on. 

... ...

Mary W-T
... The agreement of Historic England can only be obtained by giving them full details of the building and its history; which the S of S would also wish to see.
Planning permission is needed to demolish a building in a Conservation Area and the application for such demolition must be notified to Historic England unless the permission is going to be refused by the local authority.
As I said, it is an expensive business to produce all the documentation to convince HE that demolition should go ahead.

... ...

Streetlife | Lifeboat

See also:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal and the Eastern Town  >>> "The needs of all these clubs and organisations remain paramount in any plans for the future development of our town."
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal and the Eastern Town >>> >>> "People don't connect the Scoping Exercise with what is in the Local Plan"

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