Save Our Sidmouth


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EDDC claims Sidford employment site will still be developed….Are their claims watertight?

In today’s Sidmouth Herald, Cllr Phil Twiss (Con), states that reasons for refusal for the business park planning application are based on “detailed concerns” that “can all be overcome”.

Looking closely at the Highways report from Devon County Council, comments from EDDC local Ward members, the Sid Vale Association, Natural England, and the flood of others who wrote objections in the public consultation, Cllr Twiss’s opinion seems overly lightweight. The consultees’ and individuals’ comments, most solidly based on planning grounds, are registered on the EDDC website, under Planning Application ref 16/0669/MOUT.

Councillor Twiss was responding to a press release from the East Devon Alliance, copied below for your information:

‘The EDDC statement to the Sidmouth Herald (30th September 2016) claims the Sidford site will still be developed, because it is in the Local Plan. This is not necessarily the case, says Chair of East Devon Alliance (EDA), Marianne Rixson, who is also an EDDC Ward Member for Sidford-Sidmouth. She says “EDDC’s press office statement is inappropriate. It’s not EDDC’s land, and any application has to be measured against policy. Most importantly, the outcome of future planning applications should not be predetermined. Decisions on planning applications are made by the Development Management Committee (DMC), who must judge individual planning applications on Planning Matters (i.e. whether an application fits EDDC strategy and policy, e.g. on in-commuting). The Local Plan is only one aspect.”

The EDDC officer’s report on why Tim Ford’s planning application has just been refused, seems to corroborate Cllr Rixson’s point. It makes a clear distinction between a local plan allocation and a planning permission. EDDC’s statement apparently confuses the two things.

A Local Plan is not set in stone. It can adapt to ‘material changes’, such as the dramatic re-assessment of Highways problems, in Devon County Council’s late but welcome final report on this planning application (ref 16/0669/MOUT, Two Bridges Road, Sidford on the EDDC website). For those familiar with the narrow roads, rat runs, and frequent traffic chaos in the area, it makes interesting reading.’

Note from SOS: A video of traffic chaos on the access road at Sidbury can be seen on the Facebook page (right-hand column), Say No to Sidford Business Park, which was set up by Sid Valley Residents.The page details serious problems with the narrow access road from Sidford Cross (School Street), and the rat runs in Frys Lane and the significantly named Brook Road.

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Planning application for business park at Sidford is rejected

East Devon District Council has today refused permission for Fords’ application to develop a business park at Two Bridges Road, Sidford.

The reasons for refusal given on the EDDC website planning portal, are copied here for your information:

‘The Council hereby refuses permission to carry out the development described in the application and the plans attached thereto for the following reasons :

1. The application has failed to demonstrate how the quantum and mix of development and the parameters for its scale and massing could be incorporated into this rural location whilst reflecting both the local vernacular styles and reinforcing the existing landscape. Without robust landscape mitigation and an associated design code with adequate detail, the development would:

o result in harm to the landscape;
o make inadequate provision for green infrastructure; and

o fails to work sensitively with local habitats resulting in an over engineered appearance to the regraded stream and proposed flood attenuation ponds

It is considered that the proposal therefore fails to meet the requirement for the highest design and landscaping standards set out within the policy which allocates the site for employment development and fails to adequately respect the landscape which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and which should therefore be afforded the highest level of landscape protection. As such the proposal is considered contrary to national guidance and to Strategies 5 (Environment), 26 (Development at Sidmouth), 46 (Landscape Conservation), 48 (Local Distinctiveness in the Built Environment) and Policies D1 (Design and Local Distinctiveness) D2 (Landscape Requirements) EN5 (Wildlife Habitats and Natural features), of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013-2031.

2. The proposed development would use access routes that by reason of their inadequate road width (with unsuitable footway provision) and a potentially unsatisfactory junction, are unsuitable to accommodate the increase in traffic likely to be generated by the currently proposed quantum and split of employment uses. In addition the directional split of traffic generation has also not been justified. As such the proposed development is therefore considered contrary to paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework and Strategies 26 (Development at Sidmouth), and Policies TC7 (Adequacy of Road Network and Site Access) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013 – 2031.

3. Insufficient information has been submitted to justify the noise assessment and its findings that are contained within the Environmental Statement. As such it is not considered possible to accurately understand or assess the likely amenity impact that the development would have on near neighbours or secure appropriate mitigation. As such the proposal is currently considered contrary to Policies D1 (Design and Local Distinctiveness) and EN14 (Control of Pollution) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013 – 2031.

4. No mechanism has been submitted to secure necessary contributions towards or the management and maintenance of both the hedgerow bounding the proposed cycle route and the surface water attenuation and drainage scheme proposed. In addition there is no mechanism to secure the necessary junction assessment in respect of Sidford Cross which is likely to require an improved signal system and which falls outside of the identified strategic infrastructure list associated with the adopted CIL charging scheme. As such the proposed development is therefore currently considered contrary to Strategy 50 (Infrastructure Delivery) and Policies TC7 (Adequacy of Road network and site access), EN22 (Surface run off implications of new development) and D2 (Landscape requirements) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013 – 2031.

NOTE FOR APPLICANT

Informative:

In accordance with the requirements of Article 35 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 in determining this application, East Devon District Council has worked proactively and positively with the applicant to attempt to resolve the planning concerns the Council has with the application.

However, the applicant was unable to satisfy the key policy tests in the submission and as such the application has been refused.


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DCC Highways reconsider their response to Fords’ planning application for a Sidford Business Park

Following a democratic deluge of informed comments, letters, photographs and relevant videos, the Head of planning, transportation and environment at Devon County Council has revised its response to Fords’ application for planning permission.

The recommendation is: “The road giving access to the site is by reason of its inadequate width and junctions unsuitable to accommodate the increase in traffic likely to be contrary to paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework.” The full text of the response is copied below*.

As reported in the Sidmouth Herald, Fords have just sold their plumbing and electrical business to Clearvac International and will be free to “focus on their property business interests”.

Of the 387 individual comments sent to EDDC – only two are in favour of the development.

*’County Highway Authority

Comment Date: Mon 19 Sep 2016

Observations:

The County Highway Authority (CHA) has considered the application in the light of the Local Plan Strategy 26 – Development at Sidmouth, and the more detailed information contained in the application.

It should be recognised that Strategy 26 allows for the provision of up to 5 hectares of additional employment land on the site with particular onus on B1 space (with any retail “ancillary to the primary use of each unit”).

The allocation site will be developed in 2 phases, the first 3 hectares in the southern part of the site, and the second phase of 2 hectares in the northern part of the site after the 5 year review, of the Local Plan, and only if the southern part of the site has been fully developed and at least 90% occupied for employment uses first. If the first phase has not been developed by the first plan review, then the employment allocation for Sidmouth should be re-examined. Furthermore, the employment site must be subject to the highest design and landscaping standards with extensive planting and wide buffers around the existing homes to minimise any amenity impacts. The proposed employment site will need to contribute a section towards the Sidmouth to Sidbury cycle route.

The CHA has concerns that the application with 40% B1, 30% B2 & 30% B8 will encourage greater numbers of large vehicles to the B8 element than originally thought and that this is in conflict with the required onus on B1 allocation as described in Strategy 26. This application actually puts the onus on B2 & B8, at a combined 60%, and the B1 element at 40%. Which the CHA suggests is not putting the onus on B1 allocation.

The B8 element has direct implications on the type and size of vehicles that will be attracted to the site and also on the suitability of the local highway network to cope with numbers of large vehicles accessing the site. In this case the lack of width of carriageway and the lack of suitable footway and/or footway widths on the A375 at School Street, south of the site, and at Sidbury, north of the site, means that the local highway network is not suitable for large vehicles that are likely to be attracted to the development.

The application has placed great store in the accompanying Transport Assessment (TA) that claims 15% of the development traffic will use the A375 north of the site through Sidbury. The CHA has concerns that this percentage is unlikely to be correct because this road connects to Honiton and the wider highway network of the A30 and A303 to the east and the M5 to the west. I do not know on what basis this assumption has been made nor how this percentage could be controlled in the future. Therefore more information on how this percentage figure has been derived is required.

I have enquired with my predecessor on the scope for the TA that was agreed by ourselves in 2011/12. It appears that the only thing that was discussed was the possible impact on the signalled junction at Sidford Cross. The existing widths of the A375 at School Street and at Sidbury or the possibility of rat-running at Fry’s Lane and Brook Lane does not appear to been requested by DCC at the time. However it is clear from the individual consultation responses that these elements should have been included within the TA.

The applicants TA was issued in February 2012, however I understand that vehicle queuing counts were undertaken by DCC in May 2012 which indicated larger stacking at the junction approaches than in the TA. It would appear that the more up to date DCC figures have not been used in the applicants re-issue of their original TA.

The CHA considers that even though the applicants TA appears to have been accepted by the Inspector at the Examination In Public of the Local Plan, this TA is now at least 4 years out of date and that a more up to date analysis is required to test the highway impact and existing highway conditions. Such analysis should encompass a revised and agreed scoping to include the existing A375 carriageway width at School Street, Sidford and in Sidbury, rat-running via Brook Lane and Fry’s Lane and new traffic queuing counts at all arms of the Sidford Cross signalised junction. The assumption of 15% north travel to and from the site through Sidbury should also be examined/justified in much greater detail.

It will be necessary to have a TA for the proposed 1st Phase with growth up to 5 years and another TA to include both the 1st and 2nd phases with growth from 5 to years. This would give a much fuller understanding of the traffic likely to be generated by the proposed development, in all its forms, and also the affect that this traffic will have on the surrounding local highway network and the wider strategic highway network.

The CHA is keen to introduce better pedestrian amenity at Sidford Cross junction and requests that this element is also looked at in detail by the applicant. This may require the introduction of electronic improvements to the signal system. However, this should not be at the detriment of queuing traffic to provide the pedestrian amenity.

Recommendation:

THE HEAD OF PLANNING, TRANSPORTATION AND ENVIRONMENT, ON BEHALF OF DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL, AS LOCAL HIGHWAY AUTHORITY,

1. The road giving access to the site is by reason of its inadequate width and junctions, unsuitable to accommodate the increase in traffic likely to be contrary to paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Officer authorised to sign on behalf of the County Council 19 September 2016 ‘

Note from SOS:
A video of last Wednesday’s gridlock in Sidbury has already had 2800 hits on the ‘Say No to Sidford Business Park’ Facebook page.
And well over 1000 people have already signed the 38 degrees petition. To add your name, go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/say-no-to-east-devon-business-park