SOS Committee, (Richard Thurlow, (Sid Vale Association),Chair; Alan Darrant (SVA); Steven Kendall-Torry; (Chamber of Commerce) ; Richard Eley, (CoC); Barry Curwen, (CoC) , Robert Crick, (Futures Forum); Jeremy Woodward, (FF); James Sharp, (Sidmouth Hospitality Association) HA), Kelvin Dent, (Knowle Residents’ Association), Matt Booth, (Drill Hall Campaign), Marianne Rixon, (Sidford Womens’ Institute), and Jackie Green,(Publicity) meet at irregular but frequent intervals to discuss issues affecting the Sid Vale.
Our two main concerns are the Knowle and the Local Plan.
Following the rejection of the Outline Planning Application for the Knowle at the Development management Committee, an open letter from SOS to East Devon District Council was published in the Sidmouth Herald. This contained many questions to EDDC on the Knowle situation. It was sent also to each EDDC councillor.
EDDC replied to the members of SOS committee, (attached), and EDDC also published a letter supposedly answering SOS questions in the Herald. The response was typically spin, neither directly answering or explaining their intentions in any detail.
SOS resolved to respond to EDDC by asking for further clarification.
EDDC are now in a quandary of their own making. The Knowle allocation of 50 houses is also contained in the draft Local Plan (LP). What do they do? Leave the Knowle in the LP and wait for the Inspector to decide? Resubmit a revised OPA at considerable extra cost? Relinquish any attempt to redevelop the Knowle?
If only EDDC had, at the beginning of this sorry and expensive saga, made clear the problems they say they are experiencing at their HQ, and invited groups of interested organisations to discuss options with them to seek a mutually satisfactory way forward, then much cost, anguish, and embarrassment might have been saved.
But EDDC in their usual, “we know what is best”, secretive, arrogant way, decided to go ahead without any public involvement.
The Local Plan
Following the end of the Consultation/Representation period on the 14th January 2013, we understand that EDDC are compiling the Representations and expect to have completed this by the end of May 2013.
A report will then be prepared which will be sent to the Development Management Committee. This presumably will explain any changes to the Draft LP that the Planning Policy Team have made.
The CEO has said, (Scrutiny Committee meeting on the 28th March), that he expects only minor, (ie grammatical), changes. We have asked him to clarify this statement.
The LP is then sent to the Secretary of State, for him to appoint an Inspector to examine the Local Plan publicly. The original intention was for this to happen in mid summer, with the LP, (amended or as drafted), made in early 2014. However the current progress clearly prevents this, and we believe that the Public Examination will not occur until early next year, 2014.
This clearly has implications for East Devon, since the current LP expired on March 27th 2013, and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) now has precedence, This has been called a “Developer’s Charter” and we expect a number of housing applications over the next few months for Sidmouth.
We are writing to EDDC asking them to revise the LP before it is sent, to change the Knowle and to omit the Sidford Employment Land for the following reasons:
- We believe that since EDDC itself has rejected the OPA for the Knowle, that it should be changed or removed.
- We consider that there is absolutely no justification for including Sidford Employment Land. Extensive flooding is prevalent and traffic congestion will be severe. Moreover the size (5 Hectares = approx. 13 acres) has been determined by erroneous calculations. We believe that we have a very strong case against it.
Meanwhile we continue to put pressure on EDDC, by asking pertinent questions wherever we feel that there is obfuscation.
If anybody needs any further explanation then please contact SOS Chair, Richard Thurlow, at this SOS website.