Save Our Sidmouth

For the record: another speech that persuaded the DMC to vote against Knowle Plans last week.

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Councillors listened attentively to the statements put to the Development Management Committee on Friday 1st March.  Some speeches are already archived in the Knowle Watch category on this website. Here is another key one, by Kelvin Dent of Knowle Residents’ Association, with highlights by SOS.

Thank you Chair for the opportunity to address the Committee

You have a hard job to do as Chair. I know that because before I retired I was a Solicitor working for a number of local authorities. Much of my work involved planning which I enjoyed and still do.

If I were your solicitor advising you on this application I don’t think I would sleep at night. It’s a nightmare and it’s full of holes.

On Wednesday, the Leader of the Council said that the purpose of the meeting  today was to establish the asset value of the Knowle.

With respect, it’s absolutely not.This isn’t a Mickey Mouse valuation exercise to see if planning permission would be granted in principle. This  is a serious application for outline planning permission. If it’s approved there’s every likelihood that a Housing Developer will apply for approval of details and implement it.

The only safe way to proceed is to treat this application in exactly the same way as if it had been made by a Developer and ask yourselves “Should we be granting planning permission for Wimpey or Barrett Homes to build houses on land which Sidmouth UDC declared as public open space specifically in order to keep it safe from Developers?”

I’m also worried about the way in which the application has been linked to relocation. The strict legal planning situation is that this application stands alone. To his credit, Mr Freeman, recognises that fact in his report. (Page 50). Unfortunately, he then forgets it and refers in at least 5 different paragraphs in his report  to the economic benefits that would accrue to Honiton from relocation.

That’s not right Chair. As the Leader also said on Wednesday, we don’t know if the Council is going to Honiton. If it is, we don’t know where. And even if we knew where, no assessment whatsoever has been made of the economic benefits.

So far as the proven economic benefits are concerned, it’s all negative. Can you honestly put your hands on your heart and support something which will lose at least 71 jobs? Jobs for your children and grandchildren and graduates from Sidmouth College who want to stay and work in the town.

There are plenty of other problems with this application, such as the Habitat Derogation Test, but I’m running out of time. I would just make the point that if you are unhappy about any part of the application site you can’t approve it in part, you have to refuse or defer.

My respectful advice would be to take the safe course of action, go with the existing local plan  and refuse the application.

Please bear in mind what the Council itself said in the Midweek Herald. “We’ll be sensitive with the Knowle” This isn’t sensitive. It’s wanton vandalism and it makes me very, very unhappy.

Thank you.

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