As a resident of Sidmouth and a life member of the Sid Vale Association, I have objected to this proposal and am forwarding you a copy of this objection. I have also sent a copy to the Town Council, my Ward councillors, and my local MP. I would urge the Sid Vale Association to encourage its members to do the same by posting their objection on line at EDDC Planning Applications, ref 12/1847/MOUT.
“One of the reasons that my wife and I moved to Sidmouth three years ago was that it appeared to be a lovely well-balanced coastal town in terms of development and green spaces, all within a historical framework – a town managing the continual pressure for growth, its environment, and the needs of its citizens. The Knowle parkland, home of EDDC, has long been a ‘significant greenspace’ to Sidmouth. It is part of the town’s history and heritage, involving public access and affection. It is also an ecologically significant site containing many fine trees of local importance linked to species habitats within the site, the town and surrounding areas. The town is a designated Arboretum, The Knowle being an integral part of that designation.
Having studied the on-line documents accompanying this application, some of which are difficult to read in detail and legend, we object to this outline planning application on the following grounds:
1. Fifty new houses and a sixty person care centre are far in excess of the current buildings footprint on the site. Any sensible proposal would confine itself to a tight-knit layout of quality over the existing buildings footprint. The architects’ perspectives are poor and meaningless relative to modern computer imaging methods and contribute nothing to the application.
2. A significant loss of Open Space and public access.
3. An inevitable loss of trees either directly affected by the proposed new-build, and additionally, by increased development of the site affecting the water table, placing retained trees at risk.
4. Impact of development on protected species. Some of the legally required environmental surveys have only been completed in the last few weeks, and in timescale may be inadequate to assess the full impact of development proposals, species integration and associated mitigation costs. (Objections 3 and 4 are linked as being part of the overall habitat ecology of the site).
5. The application to develop this site on the basis of achieving a ‘no cost’ move to Honiton is flawed. Moves on the basis of ‘no cost’ have seldom, if ever, been achieved. We can find no data or cost comparisons on the energy issues relating to the decision to move offices within this application.
6. Traffic issues and parking. The loss of weekend parking for Sidmouth residents and visitors.
7. This application is premature and ill-judged. It is counter to the views of the majority of the local community and creates a precedent within the Sid Valley and for other areas of open space.
In our view this application should be withdrawn as inappropriate, or ‘called in’ by a higher authority.
Questions and concerns arising:
a) Why has EDDC not commissioned an independent study to fully cost and assess the validity of its move and made it public before submitting this application?
b) If this application is approved the real loss will be to the dis-benefit and cost of the town, the environment, and the people of Sidmouth. Any self-granting of planning consent to enable sale of this important site within the town needs to be seen to be fully and openly proven. Decisions should not be made by those where there is a perceived ‘self-interest’.
c) We are promised ‘transparency’ and ‘localism’ by Government. A Local Authority – both officers and elected members – have a Duty of Care. The Authority needs to be seen to be acting responsibly and equably on behalf of its citizens and the community it serves – the basis of public service. “