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2014 Sidmouth Beach Management Plan – questions for the consultation event: Thurs 6th March

Further to the Sidmouth BMP Steering Group’s meeting and reports…

… there will be a public consultation held this Thursday 6th March:

Vision Group for Sidmouth – Sidmouth Beach Management Plan – collecting information

This will be a very timely meeting – according to the Vision Group’s Futures Forum representative on the Steering Group:

“After the recent beach structural damage I wonder where the EDDC BMP Steering Group will now head.

  • We have the concrete steps at West beach – is this a BMP issue for repairs or is it an EDDC issue to make these safe for visitors. Also the timber steps up to the ice cream cafe will need replacing if the cafe is to survive.
  • We have the under-cliff walkway closed because of issues with the wall in Connaught Gardens – I guess the wall isn’t really a BMP issue, but it means EDDC won’t be maintaining the walkway underneath until the wall above is made safe. There is damage to the walkway underneath.
  • We have the side of the Ham breakwater broken up on both sides to show some of the inner structure  – how long before this becomes a complete wreck. Should it be repaired?
  • We have the fact that East beach is now inaccessible from Sidmouth because of the lowering of the beach and removal of the steps down from the gate. This is probably good for the safety of the fossil hunters. Is there a sign at Weston mouth to indicate that there is no exit at Sidmouth?
  • We have the undermining of the Alma Bridge footings and the landslip on the zig-zag path up the hill. Does this mean that the SW Coast footpath will never again be instated at this position? It lets Cllr Hughes off the hook because his promised design of the new Alma bridge is really unbuildable now. So the money he had put aside for the construction will now go – where? Was there money put aside in the first place?
  • We have the land slips along the river and the threatened fall of the rock slabs by the first upstream weir (the cracks there are widening). This needs to be cleared as soon as possible so that the river does not flood. Whose responsibility is this? EDDC or SWW? It also lets DCC nicely off the hook because there really isn’t much point in planning to construct a new weir close to the mouth of the Sid because this would further undermine the eastern bank so that the road above would come under threat.

I still hold very firmly to the belief that the best thing that the Salcombe Hill Residents’ Association could do, both for themselves and for Sidmouth, would be to put a row of garden sheds at the far end of their gardens. Fill them with reinforcing and with a strong-mix concrete and wait for them to fall to the beach below to form a natural rock revetment. Natural England and the Jurassic Coast organisation could do nothing to stop this as garden huts don’t need planning permission for outbuildings up to a total of 10 sq mtres in plan. It is an opportunity to create a Mach-type art installation on the beach below, just as Mach did in Kingston upon Thames. The huts could form wind-breaks for planting much-needed trees in front as a visual screen in their gardens and to soak up the surface water which further destabilises the cliffs. If people didn’t want to “go modern” with this sort of installation art, then they could equally well construct a giant rockery at the end of their gardens – again without needing planning permission. Perhaps the Keith Owen Fund would make a donation to Salcombe Hill householders who did this?

What should be done about the planned BMP public consultation event? I think people would rather laugh at it at the moment until some of the points above are publicly commented on or repair work is started.”

Jo Frith

27th February 2014