Thursday, 8 March 2018

Plans for Port Royal: buying the Drill Hall

There is an excellent website full of information about the history and heritage of Sidmouth's Drill Hall:
Sidmouth Drill Hall Research Site

There is also a website dedicated to campaigning to stop the building from being demolished:
Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall - Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue

In the light of the current situation...
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: selling the Drill Hall, rather than producing a masterplan

... the Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall website gives a handy overview of where we are now - in terms of options for the way ahead:

Buying the Drill Hall?

EDDC will start marketing the Drill Hall on the 1st March 2018, the process will close on 1st September 2018. The reason for this is that Councils are required to give 6 months for a community to get a bid together if the community has shown an interest.

This whole thing started in 2012 when EDDC wanted to knock down the Drill Hall leaving a rubble filled area which could have been used for temporary parking of boats or cars. Matt Booth took up the cudgels and started a campaign to save it, a petition was the first step followed by the incorporation of Sidmouth Drill Hall Hub CIC ( Community Interest Company). Although much was achieved by SDHH the focus moved away from saving the Drill Hall and into promoting community interest in Sidmouth’s fishing heritage.

In 2013 EDDC’s application to demolish the hall was withdrawn, possibly influenced by the report from their Conservation Officer who pointed out that an historic building in a Conservation area could only be demolished if compelling reasons could be shown!

A Scoping Exercise was set up in 2017 and you can find all the information about that and the results of it on the appropriate section of this site, under ‘Port Royal Thoughts’. Also check the ‘Useful Documents‘ page. In brief, it was ‘discovered’ that they couldn’t knock down everything and sell it off to a developer for millions as their cherished golden goose had turned out to be a white elephant. Flood Zone, the need to do archaelogical surveys of the ground which was part of the Sid delta at one time and the fact they couldn’t requisition part of the Ham as it is Charity ground covered by the strict terms of the original conveyance, combined with public outrage stopped them in their tracks.

The 3Rs campaign has a website and although much of the information is now outdated ( as is that at SDHH ) have a look at this page, it brings together a lot of useful information.
So here we are: what do you need to know if you are considering a new use for the Drill Hall?

If you have read about the Scoping Exercise and its aftermath, and become familiar with the useful documents (links above) then ………..

The first thing is to get together a group of people who are willing to form a board for a company, a community interest company or charity. Then you need to form the CIC or charity.

Next you need to consider ways of raising money to buy or lease the building, depending on what EDDC is offering. Money can be raised from grants and loans, public gifts or the sale of shares.

There are good guides about how to apply for grants from The Prince’s Regeneration Trustand the Architectural Heritage Fund, they may also help you find funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.

When you read these guides you see that in a case like reusing the Drill Hall you will need to be able to give all sorts of information about the building and its past. I am very happy to put together this part of any grant application.

I am totally committed to getting the building preserved and brought back into use with its interior features intact. I would prefer it if internal and external features which have been lost were reinstated or referenced in any refurbishment but I am reasonably flexible on this. I will support any ideas unless they contravene this position.

Buying the Drill Hall? - Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue

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