Save Our Sidmouth

Conversation with a Planner.

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A few days ago a correspondent (with architectural expertise) questioned EDDC’s Development Manager about the application to develop the Knowle. This same Council Officer has recommended that the Planning Committee approves the application at their meeting this Friday ( March 1st).

According to the Development Manager:

  •  Perspective drawings of the proposed development which accompany the application are inaccurate. Idealised sketches of properties in a sylvan setting are “schematic” rather than “ indicative” so don’t  give a realistic impression of what they would actually look like.
  • The proposal in the Local Plan for a 12 acre business park at Sidford is linked to the Knowle application because it could compensate for the loss of  employment land in Sidmouth if the Council relocates. (This flatly contradicts assurances from Council Leader Diviani that the two proposals are not linked – Editor.)
  • The possible loss of Knowle parkland  is small and would be compensated for by the “over-supply” of open space elsewhere in Sidmouth.
  • The car parks including  the ‘grasscrete’ area are “brown field” parkland sites.
  • He had no comments on the suggestion that  affordable housing would not be built on the Knowle site but at Manstone, nor on the suggestion that the old hotel part of the offices  could be sold for reconversion into flats.
  •  The estimated  £3m loss to the Sidmouth economy as a result of the proposed relocation was “not a planning issue”.
  • The public response to the planning application was the largest he had ever dealt with but the scale of public opposition is not a planning consideration.
  • He was “only doing his job” even if it involved the destruction of an historic park.

    Our correspondent comments:
    “The Development Manager’s job is concerned with delivering development rather than conserving landscape, so his approach is partisan , looking for reasons to promote the EDDC cabinet’s ambition to relocate.
    Clearly he has been seeking loopholes in the planning regulations and arguments in biased surveys to support his decision to recommend approval. This is about opportunistic, self-interested development at the expense of historic parkland and buildings. This is not civic planning for the benefit of the Sidmouth community.”

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