Save Our Sidmouth


More on Planning Inquiry ,Thursday 30th November 2017: Design and Heritage.

Thank you to the contributor  who kindly sent in this personal view (copied below) of yesterday morning’s proceedings. It expands our blogpost earlier today

Prof Robert Tavernor (design) claimed that:-
1. the plans draw on the town’s Regency architecture and local building materials
2.the design breaks up the existing single block with variously aligned buildings with glimpses through
3. buildings A and F enhance Knowle Drive by fronting the road rather than the back views of the existing buildings
4. the position of E is only 9.5 metres further forward than existing
5. building D is only 1.5 metres higher than the existing building but appears bigger as it is further forward
6. the photomontages presented were not produced to a recognised methodology and should not be relied on
On cross examination he:
7. disputed the dell buildings as being 5 storeys as they were affected by the topography
8. cited other buildings in Sidmouth such as St John’s School, Powys and flats in Knowle Drive itself as being several storeys high
9. seemed to agree that no quantum study of the 9,700 sq metre plan had been undertaken (later Mr Shillito stated the architects had undertaken this)
10. agreed that D would overlook the approach from the park with its large windows and roof terrace

Mr Simon Roper-Pressdee (heritage)
The majority of the time was in looking at maps, pictures and a photograph to ascertain the dates of the buildings, the terraces and the summerhouse.
He considered the new buildings would enhance the setting of the summerhouse.

The Inquiry continues today, at 9.30 a.m. The time and route of the Inspector’s site visits will be announced during the day.  We understand that any interested parties can participate.


Knowle Appeal Inquiry considers massing, scale, and “an original Fish”

Yesterday morning the Inspector heard a thorough probing of the scale and massing of PegasusLife proposals for Knowle..major elements in EDDC’s refusal of the plans almost exactly one year ago (6 December, 2016), and apparently a common factor for refusal of the same developer’s plans in other locations*.

In the afternoon, there was careful consideration of the “special regard” that should be given to preservation of the summerhouse and its setting, a legal requirement for this Grade 2 listed building . For EDDC, Ned Westaway pointed out that the sense of relationship of the summerhouse with the house and its terraces, had remained intact throughout its history.   He emphasised the importance of its heritage value as the built structure that was “the clearest link back” to the flamboyant collector and connoisseur Thomas Leveridge Fish, who owned the house and gardens in their Victorian heyday.Under cross-examination, the Heritage expert agreed it was, as it were, “an original Fish”!  Mr Westaway argued that the space around the summerhouse has always been and remains an essential part of its setting, and that only glimpses (not views as claimed by the developer) would be seen from the proposed Orangery, as a huge yew tree is in the way. The interpretation board PegasusLife offers does not mitigate any possible harm resulting from the plans to building on the terraces close to the summerhouse, he said. At this point, Edward Dolphin informed the Inspector that Sidmouth Arboretum already have plans underway  to provide  an information and interpretation board themselves, and there is £15,000 set aside for this.

Regarding the existing main building (the former hotel),  the Inquiry was told by the PegasusLife ‘Heritage’ witness that it was of “considerable” local heritage interest, and “could be restored into a building not marred by inappropriate alteration”;  be “de-cluttered” and  “retained for future generations, as fits the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)”.  He was reminded, under cross-examination by Mr  Westaway,  that Building B  was in fact to be retained not due to its flint stone wall of some Heritage value, but because of its large colony of bats.

The last hour of Thursday’s session was dedicated to consideration of whether the PegasusLife ‘special care complex’ proposals should be properly categorised as C2 or C3..still a controversial, fine-line distinction. It finished with an announcement by Simon Bird, QC, for PegasusLife, that an S106 agreement had just been signed.

The Inquiry continues today, from 9.30a.m.


*Recent examples of refusal for PegasusLife planning applications:

Chigwell  (4th Oct 2017) Application for five blocks totalling 105 apartments turned down: too big and not enough affordable housing.

Other examples believed to be:

Bath (assisted living): refused: “excessive and incongruous height”, “harmful impact upon surrounding heritage assets”, “nearby listed buildings undermined”, “the excessive tall building fails to respect its context”, “harmful impact on character and appearance of surrounding conservation area”.

Bristol (Nuffield Hospital site) – officers can’t support due to “excessive bulk and massing”, “doesn’t relate to surrounding context”, would “dominate the townscape”.

Wilmslow: refused: “too large, too high, no affordables”.

Harpenden (retirement flats) – refused due to “height (20.7 metres)”, “lack of privacy for neighbours”, “footprint 28 degrees greater than existing buildings”, “visually intrusive”, “residents’ parking would spill onto neighbouring roads”.


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Developer’s plans for Knowle: Inspector hears evidence on ‘Proof of need’

The Appeal Inquiry continues today, and possibly tomorrow (Friday 1 December). On day two of the Inquiry yesterday, the opposing barristers* for PegasusLife and for East Devon District Council (EDDC) explored the evidence of need for what was agreed in cross-examination “would be by far the largest of these ‘specialist care’ developments in East Devon”. The ageing population nationally was evidenced, but it was counter-argued that this is a “topheavy” proposal for Sidmouth, in its scale (113 flats planned) and narrowly restricted type of provision (limited solely to the wealthy).  It emerged that no research had been done by the author of the relevant report for PegasusLife, Nigel Appleton, on existing local provision of varied sorts of accomodation in the town, on the grounds that, as he explained to the Inquiry, he had “not enough local knowledge”.

The Sid Valley emerging Neighbourhood Plan (SVNP) is of course based on meticulously gathered local knowledge. The following extracts are from the speech on day 1 of the Inquiry by SVNP Group Chair, Deidre Hounsom:

‘(EDDC) APP/U1105/W/17/3177340 – Pegasus Life

Point one : The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group will shortly publish our Draft Plan. An emerging plan carries statutory weight and we contend that if this appeal by Pegasus Life is supported, the result would be to undermine and prejudice the preparation of the final Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

Our evidence carries weight according to UK Government guidance on Neighbourhood planning as well as EDDC’s commitment stating that communities have an opportunity to influence planning. We contend that it would be a breach of this commitment to overlook the evidence from the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.


The Pegasus Life Development contravenes the housing allocation in the East Devon Local Plan, which currently only includes provision for 100 new homes and 50 windfalls.
113 new homes at the Knowle is more than twice the original allocation in the Local Plan.Our surveys demonstrated limited support for housing development, and a preference for small developments. A local need for the type of housing proposed Pegasus Life was not evidenced.

The proposal is contrary to evidence contained in our Housing Needs Survey plus the views expressed by nearly 2,000 residents in the last survey. Namely;

A clear preference is suggested for affordable housing, social rented, starter homes and mixed tenure housing.

Additionally, the Pegasus proposal is not in accordance with Strategy 34 District Wide Affordable Housing Provision Targets and to Strategy 4 – Balanced Communities in which a commitment to redressing the existing population imbalance is seen as a priority.

Given that there is no evidence of local housing need of the type Pegasus Life proposes, its reasonable to expect Pegasus Life to target retirees from outside Sidmouth, exacerbating the already considerable age imbalance in the community.We assert that there is no evidence presented by Pegasus Life that provides sufficient weight to override the evidence gathered by us from the Sid Valley community.

On the contrary, there is clear support for EDDC’s Local Plan commitments to its’ own Key Issue and Objective 3: Supporting and Encouraging Thriving Communities, and to Strategies 4 – Balanced Communities, Strategy 26: Development of Sidmouth (50 homes, site ED02A)
and to Strategy 34: District Wide Affordable Housing Provision Targets.

The SVNP does not support the Pegasus Life Application and recommends refusal.’


And further to the SVNP  conclusion that PegasusLife may be targeting “retirees from outside Sidmouth”,  it is not clear how PegasusLife’s website publicity about the Sidmouth site in its Portfolio of future developments**, serves local needs.


*Simon Bird QC (for Pegasus Life)
Ned Westaway (for EDDC)