Inspector Anthony Thickett, himself a chartered town planner, yesterday continued the Examination in Public of EDDC’s Local Plan, with the second half of the Sidmouth hearing.
He heard representations on Questions 2c and 3,which were:
2c Are the proposed allocations suitable for the development for which they are proposed?
The Knowle,Port Royal,Manstone depot residential allocations
-loss of employment
-impact on the character and appearance of the area
3. Does Sidmouth have the infrastructure to support the level of new development envisaged in the Local Plan?
Two additional representations were also discussed, namely:
-Persimmon Homes (SW), proposing allocation of land for housing at Woolbrook Road
-Mr R. Eley proposing the allocation of land east of Fortescue Rd for hotel use
Representations regarding the Knowle were wide-ranging, as expected. Charlie Hopkins, speaking for Save Our Sidmouth, pointed out that EDDC refused to let even the Inspector see the valuation report on the Knowle, on the grounds of ‘commercial confidentiality’. “The only evidence you have got”, he told Mr Thickett, “is four pages from the Lister report”.
Vice-Chair of Knowle Residents’ Association (KRA), Kelvin Dent, cited the loss of 121 office HQ jobs from Sidmouth, as not conforming to Strategy 32 as it stands at the moment. Relocation of the Council’s maintenance department currently at Knowle, could mean an additional loss of manual jobs to the town, he said, and would result in a greater expense of sending staff in from elsewhere, for example, Honiton. The large scale residential development proposed would create access problems, he continued, as had been clearly indicated when EDDC’s earlier Knowle planning application had failed.
His fellow town councillors, David Addis and Ian Barlow , both argued that the sale of the Knowle site was only to fund new EDDC offices.”Knowle should be left well alone”, said Mr Barlow.
Julia Harbour, of KRA, drew attention to the unsuitability of the site for development due to the wildlife, particularly roosting bats in the building and an active badger sett.
This report will be continued shortly.