The Drill Hall for sale?

The Drill Hall for sale, a record of the process from recommendation to conclusion.

All the background to this section can be found in the Port Royal Thoughts section.


On the 13th Feb EDDC put out a press release setting out what will happen at Port Royal.

Way forward for Sidmouth’s Port Royal
Focus on improvements and Drill Hall will be marketed for redevelopment

I was surprised by this as the plans for Port Royal have not yet been approved by the full Council which next meets on the 28th Feb; but I am sure they know what they are doing!

It is still not clear whether the building will be reused, I do wish they would be more precise.


Minutes from the East Devon District Council Cabinet meeting on 7th Feb 2018 (extract)

Cllr Jeff Turner spoke for the Town Council and said that the STC interest was with the Port Royal Club (that is the Sailing Club, Gig Club and Sea Angling Club ). This is not something which has been said before but it explains a lot.
The Consultants had said in their report that the Sailing Club and other clubs who use the building provided facilities for a significant proportion of the population of Sidmouth. (Main report doc, 6.7, ‘The sailing club and the building it occupies clearly provides benefits for a significant proportion of the local community.’ ) I thought that this was overstating the case, how many people constitute a ‘significant proportion’?
Now at EDDC Cabinet Cllr Turner points out that the collective term for all these clubs is The Port Royal Club, as head of the Reference Group why did he not make this clear to the Consultants? If that basic level of communication is missing then how much else got lost?

Or is it that until now only the building was known as the Port Royal Club? ( as shown by the fact the term is only consistently used in planning documents ). I can not find a constitution or a company or a charity with that name or something similar, in Sidmouth.

EDDC written minutes can be checked against the audio record.

Neither the STC or EDDC minutes give much hope that the Drill Hall building is seen as worthy of being retained, so we need to keep up the effort!


Minutes from the Sidmouth Town Council meeting on 5th Feb 2018 (extract)

If the minutes are an accurate record then it appears that Sidmouth Town Councillors are wanting and expecting that the Drill Hall will be marketed as a building site. Their wish that a design for the site be ‘aspirational’ would indicate that they still haven’t grasped that rebuilding on that area would not be attractive for a developer, especially as such redevelopment would require the developer to contribute to the cost of the Beach Management Plan.

The reports from the Consultants make it clear that there would need to be an archeological survey before a new building could be created, and I have written to the Councillors individually, in the past, to make the same point. The Consultants touched on the difficulties of demolishing and recreating within a Conservation Area, and you all know that this point has been made to the Town Council and District Council for many years. And so it goes on …..

I find it very difficult to believe that a majority of the Town Council is still in favour of a rebuild, which is what these minutes suggest.


30th Jan 2018

The East Devon Distric Council’s agenda for 7th Feb 2018 contains an item on Port Royal. In it there is a recommendation that the whole site is not redeveloped but that the Drill Hall is put up for sale.

This agenda item has been extracted from the whole agenda and is available below
Extract from agenda for EDDC Cabinet for 7th Feb 2018

This recommendation may be accepted by Cabinet and then by EDDC as a whole, or it may not. If it is accepted there is still a lot of uncertainly about the form in which it will be marketed.
Will it be offered freehold or with a lease?
Is there the option for the building to be handed over to Sidmouth Town Council as an asset tranfer?
Are they going to accept that demolishing the Drill Hall and building something in its place is never going to be viable, given flood zones and conservation issues, and require that the building is retained?
Are they going to try to pretend that a buyer could acquire the site for redevelopment?

If the latter is part of the plan then we need to challenge it early or we will end up in a situation where we and any developer spend a lot of time in getting the correct information understood, and any reuse of the hall will be further put back.

The recommendation states that they want it marketed before there is further deterioration of the site. Would it be cruel to point out that any deterioration, past or future lies entirely at the door of the owner?