The Pegasus Life planning application for development of a C2 complex with 115 flats for the over-60s at Knowle, was unanimously rejected by Sidmouth Town Councillors last Wednesday, 1st June. At a Planning Meeting vigorously Chaired by Councillor Ian Barlow, held at St Teresa’s Church Hall, Connaught Road, all the councillors voted against the plans, mainly on the grounds of massing, height, and poor and inappropriate design. Cllr Simon Pollentine had serious reservations about the social impact of what was effectively a “gated hamlet” in the middle of our town; Cllr Marc Kilsbie warned that Pegasus Life had “a gross misunderstanding of the volume of waste” that would be produced, saying that the sewerage system in town couldn’t cope; Cllr Michael Earthy thought the plans had no local distinctiveness; and Cllr McKenzie-Edwards believed it would put extra strain on local medical personnel, given the increasing risk of dementia in the age-group targeted, with for example only one Admiral Nurse available in the town.
Their concerns echoed those voiced by the several members of the public who spoke at the beginning of the meeting. Among them was Richard Thurlow, speaking for the Sid Vale Association (see https://saveoursidmouth.com/2016/06/02/sva-objections-to-knowle-planning-application/). Passionate speeches were heard from various members of the Knowle Residents’ Association (KRA), including Mike and Beryl Temple and others who pointed out the direct overlooking of bedrooms, bathrooms and living rooms in existing properties, from the towering new blocks proposed; and Peter Atkinson warned of the realistic prospect of some of the flats becoming second homes. Jeremy Woodward of the Vision Group for Sidmouth (VgS) reminded the Council that the 4 reasons for refusal of an earlier planning application for Knowle, in 2013, still “very ,very much applied” to the present Planning Application by Pegasus Life (See the ongoing Streetlife discussion https://www.streetlife.com/conversation/2dog614zkcorx/c/30/?eid=cb2b8396-302a-4da6-ae67-7875b9360385&utm_source=immediate&uid=1vqhj9eoi27am). For East Devon Alliance, Jackie Green said the Planning Application did not comply with National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF,126) stipulations, nor paragraph 18.61 of EDDC’s Local Plan, which states that ‘We will adopt a positive,proactive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment..as well as the contribution made by the historic environment by virtue of: 1. its influence on the character of the environment and an area’s sense of place.’. She referred to the formal objection submitted by SAVE Britain’s Heritage (See https://saveoursidmouth.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4938&action=edit).
Despite the general mood of the meeting, and the views expressed by the majority of their colleagues, the respective Chairs of Planning , Ian Barlow, and of Sidmouth Town Council, Jeff Turner, remained of the opinion that a retirement complex at Knowle is “right” for the town.
Official minutes of the meeting are here:http://www.sidmouth.gov.uk/images/PLANNING_MINS_01_06_16v2.pdf
Given that the SOS Mass March to Knowle attracted around 4,000 people, why did so few people (less than 30 members of the public) attend a meeting of such importance requiring a ‘change of venue due to consideration of Knowle Planning Application’?
Could the low key publicity have been a key factor?
Should the meeting perhaps have had more prominence, for example, in this What’s On listing, posted on the Sidmouth Town Council website on the morning of the 1st June 2016?
-Sea, Sand and Smuggling Childrens’ activity day
-The Rainbow Group activities for people with learning disabilities
-Gentle Moves , seated exercise class at Sidmouth Conservative Club
-Sid Valley memory café
-Free guided geology walk
-Sidmouth Bowling Club Matches for Over 60s
-Sidmouth Town Council Planning Meeting. St Teresa’s Church Hall, 6.30pm. (Change of venue due to consideration of Knowle Planning Application).
It is hoped that the imminent STC meeting regarding the Sidford Business Park Planning Application, will be much better attended.