The officer’s report on the PegasusLife planning application relied heavily on the report by the Design Review Panel (DRP), which was funded , we understand, by the developer. The DRP’s website states that its purpose is to ‘support applicants and decision-makers in gaining planning approval’.
Michael Temple raised the following issues in his speech to last Tuesday’s meeting of the Development Management Committee (DMC):
‘The Design Review Panel’s report was based largely on artist impressions, some shown to be false by the applicant’s later photomontages. Page 26 of document 2391416, for instance, shows Buildings A and F to be more than twice the height and size as in the artist impression. Pictures were taken from near the site. But why have PegasusLife failed to present photomontages from across the conservation areas west and east and why did the planning officer not insist on these?
In the ’70s, the Council kept its purpose-built office buildings to the existing roof-line: the buildings proposed are all much much higher – the windows of Block A which will be 5.4 metres higher, the height of two normal rooms – will look into my main bedroom, and Building F – 7 metres (23 feet) higher will overbear and take morning light from Old Walls. From the listed summerhouse in the park you’ll look up to a 66 foot high block on the park lawns which will have raised ground levels, and another block on the lawns, E, is so high the applicant couldn’t fit its gable into its recent montage. And the bulk and mass of the five high buildings on the Plateau will be visible on Sidmouth’s skyline across the valley’s conservation area and totally dominate a much-loved public park, with traffic noise and pollution to a car park harming its health and tranquillity; the Dell buildings will impact on Sidmouth’s “green approach”. It is basically massed brutalist architecture with a hotch-potch of facing materials out of keeping with this Regency town.
The proposed development is more than twice the area of the present offices, much of it on prime parkland.
The Planning Officer claims the “benefits” of this scheme outweigh the admitted harm to the listed building.
“Benefits”? Sidmouth will lose:
- the best of its park, its prospect; tourist parking; heritage buildings; this chamber for public events; 100 jobs
There will be :
- pressures on our health services; no affordables for young people; threats to drains downtown; a blot on the townscape…
I submit that this scheme, like similar ones recently rejected at Brockenhurst, Bath and elsewhere, is too big, too high, too intrusive and represents a gross overdevelopment which will do serious harm to this town.’