Save Our Sidmouth


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Proposed Sidford Business Park removed from Local Plan

By a narrow margin of, we are told, 18 votes to 13, District Councillors at today’s Extra Ordinary meeting at Knowle, have decided to drop the controversial proposal for a 12 acre employment site at Sidford Fields.

Congratulations and thanks to Sidmouth Councillors Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman for proposing the amendment. As a recent commentator on this blog noted recently, Cllr Troman had already argued strongly at the Development Management Committee, that the Sidford site was not justified by the council’s own formulae.

And much credit must also be given to SOS member Marianne Rixson, whose extensive research on flooding and traffic issues was presented to the Inspector at the Examination-in-Public of the previous Local Plan. Her work has solidly informed the debate.


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‘Open Space’ issues in the relocation debate

As described by SOS member, Peter Whitfield, in his speech to the Full Council last night (25th mMrch) :

Councillors, I refer to paras 6.14 to 6.20 of the DCEO’s report.
On 1st March 2013 the DMC refused OPA 12/1847. Two key reasons given were loss of parkland and proximity of the development boundary to the listed summer house on the site.
The application had shown the development line as the top edge of a path leading towards the Depot area in defiance of the extant Local Plan which showed it to follow the footprint of the current building. That line is still the one in force until the revised local plan which you are considering tomorrow is approved by Mr Thickett.
I would ask you to reinstate that line and reject the one before you in today’s relocation submission. The development extension onto the upper terraces has never been properly debated by full Council. – indeed whenever it has been raised by the public, discussion has been curtailed – one example being at your meeting on 24 July 2013 when a public speaker did refer to this issue as it was part of a parcel of 18 sets of Minutes being nodded through. But Cllrs Cope and Bloxham moved “next business”.
All officer reports on this issue refer only to the quantity of the open space at risk and in language designed to emphasise how small the loss is (although some might think 14% is not inconsiderable) – no mention is ever made of its relative quality. Data derived from snapshot studies of usage have been used to justify the appropriation of open space purportedly to show that the Knowle site is no longer required for the purpose of public walks or as a pleasure ground.
But this data was collected between 2 years and 16 months ago and frankly the four comparator sites are ludicrous and one does not even exist! – my time does not allow explanation. The top terraces are what give the great vista to the sea and over the parkland and trees below and set off whatever building they sit beneath.
Today’s boundary is drawn just six feet from the Grade 2 listed folly and to the feature marked by the edge of a bank and the path to the depot – although the Planning Policy Manager responding to comments from the public told DMC’s July 2013 meeting that “it would not be appropriate for a Local plan to refer to measurements of site/development boundaries from given features”. This appropriation based on that emergent Local Plan cites no measurements – only lines on a diagram drawn to match specific features.
I ask that in the interests of giving due recognition of the value of quality of open space over quantity you redraw the development line for appropriation to that of the extant local plan on Inset Map 48.

( it does not say what part of the Knowle was surveyed – it was probably just the top two terraces. But the vista provided from Station Road and by the approach up the drive is beautified by the sweeping grassy banks of the car parks – not much walked upon but definitely appreciated as part of the view and certainly seen by more people than cited in the table)


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APPLICATION TO LIST KNOWLE PARK AS ASSET OF COMMUNITY VALUE

This speech by Mike Temple, was made at last night’s Extra Ordinary Council meeting on relocation (Weds 25 March)

Chairman, Members,

I speak on behalf of the Knowle Residents’ Association.

Yesterday afternoon, we delivered to EDDC reception an application to register Knowle Park as an Asset of Community Value.

The Knowle Residents’ Association was urged to take this step following extensive discussions only last Thursday 19th March, with lawyers from the national conservation group SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

This group has considerable experience in such cases, and has pursued very successfully over the years the listing of assets which would otherwise be damaged or destroyed.

The registration of the Knowle Park in its entirety as an Asset of Community Value would protect a much-valued amenity from the ravages of development.

Earlier this month, EDDC’s Cabinet recommended that this Council give away about 85% of the Knowle parkland to the Sidmouth Town Council – which is an extraordinary admission, namely that the District Council is prepared to donate an asset of community value to the local town’s authority.

The registration of the whole of the Knowle parkland as an Asset of Community Value would mean that this greatly valued historic amenity would indeed be donated to the local community.

Should EDDC reject this application, the Knowle Residents Association will appeal, and will pursue with determination the registration of all of the parkland at Knowle.

We urge you to take note of this decision.

Thank you.

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