The following press release has been issued (20/01/2016), on behalf of Save Our Sidmouth:
‘Response to East Devon District Council’s update on the LOCAL PLAN
The Inspector’s recommendation that the Local Plan should include both the Employment site at Sidford and a Housing site at the Knowle for 50 dwellings is a huge disappointment. It ignores the clear wishes of a large proportion of Sidmouth residents, Sidmouth Town Council and all the Sidmouth EDDC councillors.
At the Knowle, the decision to allow 50 houses on the site instead of continuing local employment for 400 professional staff will in economic terms, severely affect the town, as well as have a detrimental effect on the Parkland. In view of his decision, it will be interesting to hear how EDDC will reconcile this with the potential developer’s desire to build over 120 dwellings on the site.
At Sidford, we know that the decision to include the site is flawed, and is based on fallacious data. There is evidence to suggest that EDDC and their now disgraced Business Forum, canvassed developers for potential sites, and then manufactured the rationale and analysis to support their internally chosen site. EDDC let the proponents of that site produce “evidence” to support it, and never questioned the data. This included flawed traffic figures, no real visual analysis, and unsupported flood analysis, amongst other deficiencies. The Employment allocation arises solely because of the commercial pressures of one landowner and a business in the town.
Later, EDDC, under pressure from Sidmouth Councillors, saw sense and accepted that the site should not have been included. They decided to omit the Employment allocation from the third and final submission. Unfortunately the Inspector had ruled that no revisions were allowed at that late stage.
Thus the town may well end up with having an obtrusive, flood-prone, traffic- congesting group of sheds on its doorstep. Or the possibility of a large retail park, which will destroy the nature of the town forever. Moreover, the residents of Sidford will now have blight on their homes because of the impending development and a continuing worry about traffic and flooding.
Sidmouth does not need a further Employment site; the town already has one at Alexandria Road, which with a modicum of attention could accommodate all the minor employment opportunities that is needed.
We are extremely grateful for all the support that Sid Valley residents have given in time and money over the last few years, and they may rest assured that although we are naturally disappointed with the outcome, we have not given up.
R J Thurlow. Chair, Save Our Sidmouth’
Some photos from SOS archive (2013), for reference.
They show Sidford to Sidbury Rd, alongside the proposed employment site; and the ‘welcome’ sign at the Knowle Drive entrance to the footpath.