For the record

For the record..from Sidmouth Herald Opinion Page, Sept. 2017
Re: Port Royal
Sir,
In office, though not in power, the leaders of our local councils deserve our sympathetic
support rather than our condemnation.
Local government of every political hue across the UK has, for several years now, had no choice but to cut services and sell off public assets, whether these are care homes or playing fields, parks, public toilets, or government offices.
The bad news for EDDC is that Port Royal offers precious little investment opportunity for private profit.
Most of us who have looked at the site carefully believe its potential sale value for development is not likely to be significant. A lovely location we all agree, but objectively it is just an unstable pile of shingle beside crumbling cliffs next to a precarious sewage station on a flood plain at a time of climate chaos when ever-more extreme weather events are all but inevitable. And there is a covenant, and a range of vested interests.
The site has already proved its great use-value for tourism, entertainment and recreation, as well as providing facilities for the Lifeboat station and for indispensable regular repairs and maintenance at the sewage pump. But nothing has yet been decided. Heated argument will contribute little to good decision making.
Years of public consultation and professional research have identified two issues that must be taken into account before any decision is made:
• First, any development at Port Royal depends on the management of the mouth of the Sid and of the beach and cliffs to the east.
• Second, it requires a radical review of Sidmouth’s transport and traffic flows.
1. EDDC has published (http://eastdevon.gov.uk/coastal-protection/beach-management-
plans/sidmouth-and-east-beach-management-plan/sidmouth-beach-management-plan- frequently-asked-questions/) some FAQs on the Beach Management Plan, which is subject to review at the Steering Group meeting on Wednesday 13th September. A version of this information was in the Herald’s recent “Sidmouth Resident” issue 10.
Some of the published answers can help to inform discussion of the options for Port Royal. Other answers are misleading or inaccurate but can soon be amended. There are also some omissions. For example, any investor in Port Royal’s development needs to be aware of their legal liability to make a substantial contribution towards the cost of any shore-line defences.
And a fuller examination is needed of the high maintenance costs and negative impact on the eastern cliffs of the unsightly rock groynes in front of the York and Bedford esplanade, which might usefully be re-engineered as self-sustaining offshore reefs.
2. Little or no progress has yet been made on Devon County Council’s long-promised traffic plan. This is now clearly urgent. The Neighbourhood Plan may show the way forward.
Robert Crick,
Sidmouth

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