All posts by Mary

Planning thoughts

I hope to share with you all the things I have thought about when considering my response to the Rockfish Drill Hall planning application. It is not an easy thing to get one’s head round.

Many of you may like to make a comment of some sort but don’t have the time to cross reference all the legal positions, and in planning law it is only the legal stuff which can be taken into account. So I hope that things I have compiled will give you any references you need to say what you want, whatever stance you take. On the planning portal you can choose to ‘support’, ‘object’, or leave neutral comment. I will be going for the neutral route because I believe there are many good points to this proposal but there are also some glaring holes in their concept and their documentation.

This is what I extracted from the Sid Vale Neighbourhood Plan. It is not law until and unless we vote for it to be, on the 19th September in the Referendum. However, as it has been approved by an independent Inspector it should be given a certain amount of weight because it accurately reflects National Planning law, the contents of the Local Plan and the responses collected from many surveys and consultations.

Extracts from SVNP concerning Port Royal

Then there is all the stuff to find in Government Guidance documents

Guidance relevant to Rockfish Drill Hall Proposal

You may also like to look at the sections of the East Devon Local Plan to do with Heritage and Local Distinctiveness.
Pg 147 Design and the Built Heritage
Strategy 48 Local Distinctiveness i the Built Environment


Rockfish plans and the Conservation Area

Rockfish could be great for the economy but a problem for the Esplanade. I have written an open letter to all EDDC and Sidmouth Town Councillors to express my concern.

Open letter to East Devon District and Sidmouth Town Councillors
concerning planning application Ref 19/1775/FUL for Sidmouth Drill Hall
Dear Councillors,
Like many, I am extremely pleased that Rockfish are going to set up in the Drill Hall and I hope that them doing so will bring benefit to the Sidmouth economy. However, I am concerned that the plans submitted will actually work against the town by having an adverse effect on the Conservation Area.
Sidmouth Esplanade is a much photographed piece of heritage. It is used in promotional material for both the town and for south Devon, in publications about the history of seaside resorts and about architectural styles, as well as attracting film makers. Many of these views are taken from positions where either the whole or a large portion of the Esplanade can be seen. Therefore any new design should be assessed within the context of the Esplanade as a whole.
The buildings along the Esplanade and most of the buildings within the immediate town have facades of stucco painted in pale tones with darker detailing (usually blue or black). This is a style which is an identifying characteristic of the whole of the Town Conservation Area;  research which has culminated in the emerging Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan ( going to referendum on 19th Sept 2019) has shown widespread support in the town for retaining such historical character.
The Neighbourhood Plan has been found to be sound by an Independent Inspector and thus is a material consideration in planning decisions.
Conservation Area legislation indicates that new elements should either improve the character of a Conservation Area or do it no harm. A Conservation Area is a Designated Heritage Asset.
The proposed design for Rockfish at the Drill Hall is out of keeping with the Conservation Area mainly due to the colour chosen, which is variously described in the documents as grey, dark grey, and charcoal grey. It is stated that the design takes inspiration from the neighbouring Lifeboat Station, Sailing Club and Sidmouth Trawlers buildings, yet the first two buildings have pale cream walls with blue detailing and the latter is white. The ‘fish wall’ which borders the fishermen’s yard is also blue and white, and the toilet block/shelter which stands to the immediate east of the Drill Hall (also being the last building on the Esplanade) is again predominantly pale with darker detailing; which continues the identifying characteristic of the Conservation Area.
It would be possible for the proposed Rockfish design to be amended, without increasing costs, to match what is there already either on the Esplanade as a whole or in the neighbouring buildings.
If the aesthetic of an old fishing shed is of importance to their design and bright colour is a stumbling block then perhaps the aesthetic could be enhanced by using faded colours, or one which resembles bleached wood, in place of the dark grey?
I urge you to ensure that the approved colours are appropriate to the setting, i.e. much lighter walls than proposed.
Yours sincerely, Mary Walden-Till

Delay in Marketing Drill Hall

  Drill Hall c 1924


The process of putting together a bid for the Drill Hall is fraught with difficulties ….. not least the fact that you can’t find out what the condition of the building is or what the terms of the sale are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been working since 27th June to try to get things moving but am stonewalled at every turn. See up to date information here

Do you want to buy a Drill Hall?

East Devon District Council put out a press release yesterday saying that the Drill Hall site will be marketed. I presume that this means someone could buy the hall for reuse.

South west corner of hall, looking towards the front rooms

Please spread the word, Sidmouth is a lovely town, the building has real potential and it would be a shame for someone to buy it for the site alone.



Council meeting about Port Royal

Sidmouth Town Council will meet on the 5th of Feb at the Methodist Hall to make decisions about Port Royal which will either work to protect or destroy Sidmouth Drill Hall. My email to them can be seen here

The things I am saying are not new, in the main, but it never hurts to jog people’s memories. I believe our Councillors have the best interest of the town at heart and so hope the meeting will show they have listened to what we have said.

You can sign up for the newsletter, which goes out roughly monthly, from any page on the website.

As promised yesterday.

I have put the Excel, and the pdf taken from the Excel, raw survey data online on the Scoping Study page. You’ll find it at the bottom. There are also direct links at the bottom of this post.

This is the information from the 248 people and organiasations who commented on the Scoping Exercise public consultation at the end of June. The narrative answers so how confusing people found the questionnaire, and how in some cases they were trying to answer it without ever having seen, or perhaps understood, those consultation boards.

The people who understand how to read drawings should always be aware that many people can not read them. That is why illustrations from many angles, or preferably models, should be used whenever possible.

Raw data …. Excel format ….. pdf format
Both these are difficult to follow but it is worth reading one of them to get a feel for what people think.

The Survey response document.