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What is Sidmouth for?

  • by JW

From retirement home… tourist destination… low-paid economy…

To a post-covid work-from-home culture and a new type of tourist industry



The Sid Valley is a retirement home for mostly pensioned couples from other parts of the UK.

Sidmouth has, after all, a Yorkshire Society and a Lancastrian Association:

Sidmouth Yorkshire society seeks members | Sidmouth Herald

Lancastrian Association announces new president | Sidmouth Herald

Over 60% of the population are over 60:

Survey of the elderly in Sidmouth – ScienceDirect

Seaside towns struggling to cope with ageing population as figures show more than a third in some areas are over 65 | Daily Mail Online

And as such, the facilities are mainly provided for and enjoyed by the elderly:

Sidmouth, it is paradise… for the retired or elderly –

The top 10 places to retire | Money | The Guardian

But it is an increasingly ageing population:

‘Ticking time bomb’ as Sidmouth gets older | Sidmouth Herald

As covered on these news pages:

Sidmouth is singled out as one of the towns facing the biggest increase in the elderly – Vision Group for Sidmouth



Most of the housing stock is therefore geared to the retired:

Find Retirement Properties For Sale in Sidmouth | Rightmove

And most of the new housing is being built for the same market:

Sidmouth town-centre ‘retirement community’ plans | Sidmouth Herald

Again as covered on these pages, new-builds tend to be exclusive and expensive:

Knowle relocation project: more profit for a retirement development – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Sidford retirement development > new application – Vision Group for Sidmouth



And as people age, they need to be looked after – in the substantial care home industry:

In a class of their own? The continuing care-home conundrum – Lexology

Which is particularly worrying in these times:

Devon care homes under pressure – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Coronavirus, care homes and Sidmouth – Vision Group for Sidmouth



Many who retire to Sidmouth first came to East Devon on holiday, making tourism the other substantial industry in the Sid Valley:

THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Sidmouth – 2020 (with Photos) | Tripadvisor – Must See Attractions in Sidmouth, Devon

And there is a keenness to reopen as soon as possible:

Eat out to help out restaurants in East Devon | Sidmouth Herald

Sidmouth council and chamber of commerce welcome reopening of hospitality trade | Sidmouth Herald

Virtual tourist guide video of Sidmouth recorded by visitor | Sidmouth Herald



The underlying problem is that both the caring and tourist industries are badly paid:

HMRC reveal Devon workers rank among lowest paid in UK | Sidmouth Herald

And minimum wage combined with expensive housing is not a good combination – as covered several times over the years, for example:

Low wage seaside – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Rural Housing Week – and housing rural key workers – Vision Group for Sidmouth

In which case, those employed in these industries cannot afford to live in the Sid Valley.

They are either non-UK citizens, many living in staff accommodation:

Futures Forum: Brexit: and Sidmouth hotels struggling to find staff

Or they commute from much further afield where housing is cheaper:

Futures Forum: Housing numbers in East Devon … and the Local Plan … further reports …

Besides, these jobs are not at all attractive to local young people:

What interesting jobs are needed to keep young people in the Sid Valley? | Sidmouth Herald

And so, the demographic make-up of the Valley is even more imbalanced:

Young people ‘struggle to envisage a future living by the sea’ – Vision Group for Sidmouth




The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan saw the issues around an imbalanced demographic:

Futures Forum: Maintaining a balanced community in Sidmouth >>> “The town is not well supplied with facilities for younger people and the closure of the only nightclub is a loss.”

And tried to address them:

Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: survey for the Valley’s youth >>> calling for more wide-ranging jobs and facilities for young people

Including around housing:

Affordable homes to go to Sid Valley young people if neighbourhood plan approved |

An outline of the housing polices covered by the Sid Valley Neighbourhod Plan | Sidmouth Herald



These news pages have looked extensively at the new WFH culture:

Working from home becomes the norm – Vision Group for Sidmouth

A permanent shift towards home working… – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Which might attract a younger, still-working demographic:

Decentralization and technology-enabled home working – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And the Neighbourhood Plan had in fact sought to support these new directions:

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan – supporting an entrepreneurial culture – Vision Group for Sidmouth



The future of tourism looks different:

Looking to a new kind of tourism after the corornavirus – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The future of tourism in the West Country: part two – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The future of tourism in the West Country – Vision Group for Sidmouth

To finish, here is a radical piece from Rafia Zakaria who has written about the future of tourism after Covid. International travel overruns small cities, tramples the landscape, and disrupts the lives of local residents. “Tourism should never be resuscitated in the form in which it existed,” Zakaria concludes. “The question is no longer: when can I be a tourist again, but what kind of tourist do I want to be?”