Save Our Sidmouth

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Knowle proposals: Similar schemes by the same developer “recently rejected at Brockenhurst, Bath and elsewhere”, DMC were informed.

The officer’s report on the PegasusLife planning application relied heavily on the report by the Design Review Panel (DRP), which was funded , we understand, by the developer.  The DRP’s website states that its purpose is to ‘support applicants and decision-makers in gaining planning approval’.

Michael Temple raised the following issues in his speech to last Tuesday’s meeting of the Development Management Committee (DMC):

‘The Design Review Panel’s report was based largely on artist impressions, some shown to be false by the applicant’s later photomontages. Page 26 of document 2391416, for instance, shows Buildings A and F to be more than twice the height and size as in the artist impression. Pictures were taken from near the site. But why have PegasusLife failed to present photomontages from across the conservation areas west and east and why did the planning officer not insist on these?

In the ’70s, the Council kept its purpose-built office buildings to the existing roof-line: the buildings proposed are all much much higher – the windows of Block A which will be 5.4 metres higher, the height of two normal rooms – will look into my main bedroom, and Building F – 7 metres (23 feet) higher will overbear and take morning light from Old Walls. From the listed summerhouse in the park you’ll look up to a 66 foot high block on the park lawns which will have raised ground levels, and another block on the lawns, E, is so high the applicant couldn’t fit its gable into its recent montage. And the bulk and mass of the five high buildings on the Plateau will be visible on Sidmouth’s skyline across the valley’s conservation area and totally dominate a much-loved public park, with traffic noise and pollution to a car park harming its health and tranquillity; the Dell buildings will impact on Sidmouth’s “green approach”. It is basically massed brutalist architecture with a hotch-potch of facing materials out of keeping with this Regency town.
The proposed development is more than twice the area of the present offices, much of it on prime parkland.
The Planning Officer claims the “benefits” of this scheme outweigh the admitted harm to the listed building.

“Benefits”? Sidmouth will lose:

  • the best of its park, its prospect; tourist parking; heritage buildings; this chamber for public events; 100 jobs

There will be :

  • pressures on our health services; no affordables for young people; threats to drains downtown; a blot on the townscape…

I submit that this scheme, like similar ones recently rejected at Brockenhurst, Bath and elsewhere, is too big, too high, too intrusive and represents a gross overdevelopment which will do serious harm to this town.’

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PegasusLife proposal for Knowle contravened “almost all of the relevant Strategies in the Local Plan”, EDDC Planning Committee was told.

On the 6th December 2016, Richard Thurlow , speaking  on  behalf of Sid Vale Association (SVA) and Save Our Sidmouth (SOS),  made three points to the Development Management Committee (DMC) members. He said,

Firstly, the proposal contravenes almost all of the relevant Strategies in the Local Plan. The major ones are:

Strategy 26, which allocates 50 dwellings to the site, against the 113 being proposed.
Strategy 31, which specifies that one job should be provided for each dwelling : 14 are proposed.
Strategy 34, which specifies that 50% of all new developments should offer Affordable Housing: the proposal has none.
Strategy 36, which allocates 50 Extra Care Home spaces in Sidmouth: 113 are proposed

The Planning Officer’s report recommends that all these are overridden. How convenient!
Secondly, Pegasus assert that all 113 apartments should be Class 2 rather than Class 3. If so, Pegasus will avoid ANY contribution towards Affordable housing or towards the infrastructure levy

Class 2 relates to Residential Institutions and attracts no local contribution in any form; Class 3 relates to Dwellings, where 50% of any development must be Affordable Housing a Community Infrastructure levy applies. If Class 3 applied, the CIL payment from Pegasus would be about £1.5m

The Planning Officer took legal advice in May 2016 and wrote to Pegasus, saying that the classification should be C3 not C2. However, despite stating in the report that “there has been significant concern that the scheme provides C3 use rather than C2”, he has now reversed his earlier view, and accepts that the dwellings are Class 2.

Apparently no further legal advice has been taken, but the new stance is justified by quoting selectively from a Guidance note .
However, just as relevant are other legal opinions in that note that came to the opposite conclusion. These have been ignored.

A much more robust analysis must be made before any approval is given.

Finally, the Report , having discounted all the Proposals’ detrimental effects, says that the scheme hinges on its impact on the Grade 2 listed Summerhouse, assessed against the “Public Benefits“ of the proposal.The 6 “benefits” quoted, range from general statements about the strategic need for an increased supply of housing, to … wait for it!..

  • the employment of 14 equivalent full-time staff
  • the access to an on-site café and a 3 year access to the Wellbeing Centre, that would “enhance the public’s experience of the space”
  • the provision of an interpretative signboard to help understanding of the listed building .

The Report then finds that these 6 “Public Benefits” are significant and outweigh not only the harm to the listed building, but to all the other detrimental effects of the proposal.

What can I say!

Councillors please reject this outrageous proposal and thus give the clear message that Pegasus must come back with a proposal that really benefits the town and not just their own pockets.”