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Seaton; Anger over plans to demolish hall

Friday, 21 February 2014

SEATON residents have been urged to give East Devon District Council “hell” over plans to demolish the much used St John Ambulance hall in Colyford Road.
EDDC are planning to knock down the hall as part of their plans to build 14 workshops on land that formerly housed the Colyford Road depot site.
Seaton town councillors are in favour of the workshop plan but are angry that they have not been consulted over the demolishing of the St John HQ which is used by a number of other local organisations as a meeting place.
When plans were revealed in December, Councillor Ian Thomas, EDDC Cabinet member for Economy and chairman of the Regeneration Programme Board, said: “This is another example of the increased confidence in Seaton and forms part of our regeneration programme bringing further investment and jobs to the town.”
EDDC also have plans to build a further seven larger units (70 to 84 square metres) on the Fosseway Park land east of Lyme Bay Auction Rooms in Harepath Road.
At last week’s meeting of Seaton Town Council, the Mayor, Councillor Gaynor Sedgwick, said she was “alarmed” to hear that EDDC proposed to demolish the St John Ambulance HQ.
She claimed that the consultation was carried out with very little publicity and the town council had no notification it was happening.
Councillor Sedgwick told members: “In addition to being the HQ for St John Ambulance volunteers who meet there several times a week, it also houses their ambulance and is used by a number of other groups to meet and for storage – Rainbows, Yoga, three bridge clubs and Slimming World.
“The workshops should be welcomed but I see little benefit in demolishing a very good facility, well used and in very good condition.
“I have spoken with users of the hall as well as St John Ambulance representatives, who have had little or no contact with EDDC. The land is owned by EDDC and leased to St John Ambulance. Their lease expires this year.”
Councillor Tony Woodman said it was vital to retain the St John HQ. He understood that EDDC planned to demolish the building to improve the access .
“I do not accept this argument,” he said. “It will not make any difference to access at all. As a council we should very strongly oppose this. They can build the workshops without knocking down the hall.”
Councillor Sedgwick, emphasizing that St John used the hall for training as well as garaging their ambulance on site, said the access had been used for many years by heavy vehicles when it was a depot.
It was also widely used by other organisations for storage and hired out for children’s parties. St John had been told they could use one of the workshops but they did not know whether this would be suitable and they would be homeless for a while. All the other clubs would have to find other premises.
Councillor Sedgwick continued: “The hall is well maintained and well used and the rationale behind demolishing it is to create an improved access to ensure highway safety, according to EDDC. It will be an absolute disgrace if we lose this well maintained asset,
“We should welcome the workshops but it is not necessary to knock down such a good facility.”
Councillor Woodman said the public should strongly oppose the plan by writing individual letters of complaint to the district council, adding: “I urge the people of Seaton to contact East Devon and make their life hell until they forget the ridiculous idea.”
It was unanimously agreed that the council would write in the strongest possible terms opposing the demolition of the hall.


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