Save Our Sidmouth

Time’s ticking away for Knowle: Nothing to do with Sidford Fields?

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Or is it part of the employment land jigsaw pieced together by EDDC?

Two of our recent posts, copied below, might help you to decide.

1.  from Jan 8  True Reasons for Sidford employment land revealed….by EDDC !!

Save Our Sidmouth campaigners have unearthed further information regarding the redevelopment of the Knowle, and EDDC’s proposed relocation to Honiton. Following pressure from SOS, EDDC have released their risk assessment for the relocation project. It reveals in the small print, that a component of the move is a valuation of the Manstone employment site. No other EDDC asset, other than the Knowle, features in the calculations.
The Manstone employment site was a late and surprise inclusion in the draft Local Plan as a proposed housing site, and was identified for 20 residential units. The allocation of Manstone for housing was unexpected because the employment site is fully occupied and flourishing and it is a policy of the District Council to maintain and promote employment sites within residential areas whenever possible.
SOS point out that 20 residential units happens to be exactly the number of affordable units that will be required at the Knowle site, the present HQ of EDDC. At the Knowle, the local authority are applying for 50 units, 40% of which are required to be affordable. SOS say that it seems obvious that the District Council will seek to take all the affordable from the Knowle and relocate it to Manstone. They say this is the only possible explanation for the inclusion of the Manstone site in the risk analysis for the Knowle project.
‘EDDC is being as disingenuous as ever in hiding their plans from the public they are supposed to serve. Only determined and repeated requests for information have brought their intentions to light.
The surprise inclusion of the Manstone employment site as a residential site in the draft Local Plan, contrary to their own policies, is exposed as a cynical manoeuvre to facilitate the delivery of their vanity project: a new HQ at Honiton.’
‘The allocation of the Sidford employment land is now laid bare as part of the whole relocation project. Neither the Knowle or Manstone sites can be reallocated to residential use within the Plan unless the Sidford land is identified for employment The future of Sidmouth and the protection of our environment are being threatened by the ambition of the leadership of EDDC to have swanky new offices in Honiton. How cynical can you get?’
2. from Jan 19 ..extract from a response to the Local Plan.

‘In Sidmouth, to maximise return, EDDC intends to sell historic popular amenity and public employment land to developers for private homes. By asset stripping EDDC is exploiting Sidmouth’s value as a cash cow to relocate to a place which is further away from the more populated coastal wards. EDDC’s are in effect parcelling up the existing employment spaces to relocate it on fields which have been offered by local landowner in an AONB. Instead of concentrating on diverse mixed use sites within existing boundaries the EDDC local plan is transferring commercial provision to an out of town green field location. Such a move will of course have a detrimental effect on Sidmouth as a high quality tourist destination and will impact negatively on the future sustainability and prosperity of the resort.
The local plan map indicates a change of use for employment land at the Knowle, Manstone and Port Royal to accommodate new homes. There was no mention of the relocation of the EDDC HQ in the local plan which will shift 380 full time equivalent jobs from Sidmouth to Honiton. Yet by approving the outline planning application for fifty houses (and a large care home) to facilitate the relocation EDDC will effectively be predetermining the outcome of the Local Plan before it is inspected. Rather than serving the local community, the EDDC cabinet is effectively exploiting the local plan procedure for their own self-interest. The repercussions of manipulating the local plan in this way is job losses from the Knowle and elsewhere will determine the need for alternative work places on the “employment” land at Sidford.
The Knowle development would also involve building on parkland which the Government NPPF guidance says is not brown field. Installing this amount of homes on the site will require the destruct/on of a historic landmark and the loss of a townscape of considerable merit with an impressive relationship between the existing building and the setting. The car parks were located on the Knowle nature reserve which is the property of the town and as such should remain for use of the public and not be converted to private residences.
The proposals for Sidmouth were added at the last minute and were therefore unavailable for public consultation. The employment land supply and distribution is entirely fabricated to accommodate the relocation of the EDDC HQ to Honiton (see planning application 12/1847/MOUT) Sidmouth currently has a well balanced distribution and mixture of employment land and residential accommodation within its existing boundaries and I strongly disagree with the change of use at Knowle and Manstone to relocate employment capacity elsewhere in the Sidford Fields. It is wholly inconsistent with the evidence based ethos of the Local Plan and there is no correlation between the quantities of new homes and the excessive employment land supply. There has been no consultation over the amounts of employment land allocation and unsurprisingly the Local Plan fails to reflect the real needs of the community. EDDC has had plenty of time to adjust the Local Plan but has regretfully chosen instead to ignore local feedback and has tried to repel overwhelming opposition in the valley.

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