Sunday, 29 March 2015

Proposals for a business/retail park at Sidford are removed from the draft Local Plan >>> to be replaced by new proposals for 'green wedge' between Sidford and Sidbury?

The District Council met twice last week to consider its draft Local Plan:
Futures Forum: District Council to consider draft Local Plan >>> Monday 23rd March >>> the issues

And one of the main issues was the proposal for an industrial estate for Sidmouth:
Futures Forum: District Council to consider draft Local Plan >>> Monday 23rd March >>> Sidford Employment Land

One of the arguments against this proposal had been the notion of preserving a 'green wedge' between Sidford and Sidbury:
Natural England objects to Sidford business park - News - Sidmouth Herald

In fact, the notion of needing a 'green wedge' between towns seems to be literally gaining ground...

A 'wedge' between Seaton and Colyford was pushed for successfully over a year ago:
Rallying call for ‘Green Wedge’ protesters - News - Midweek Herald
Green Wedge gives East Devon District Council the edge in planning battle | Exeter Express and Echo

There have been campaigns elsewhere - to the south of Exeter:
Outcry over threat to Topsham’s ‘green wedge’ | Exeter Express and Echo
Topsham green wedge campaign springs into action - News - Exmouth Journal

And there has been a push for building on the 'green wedge' to the east of Exeter:
Plans submitted for 900 homes on outskirts of Exeter to add to 1,230 with approval | Exeter Express and Echo
Outrage at plans for 1,200 houses on green wedge on outskirts of Exeter at Old Park Farm, Pinn Hill, between Pinhoe and the village of Westclyst | Exeter Express and Echo
Futures Forum: Of Cranbrook and Greater Exeter
Futures Forum: The NPPF under pressure: building houses on green space

The Secretary of State has recognised the  validity of 'green wedges':
Editor's pick: Urban extension refused to preserve green wedge | Planning Resource

Proposals to make the land between Sidford and Sidbury an official 'green wedge' were put forward last week:

Bid to move 12-acre employment site

23 March 2015

Harvey Gavin harvey.gavin@archant.co.uk

A pair of Sid Valley representatives have made a last-ditch effort to see controversial proposals for 12-acres of employment land between Sidford and Sidbury scrapped.

Councillors Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman hope to convince district planning chiefs that an alternative vision of a business park on land by Sidmouth Garden Centre, north of the A3052, is a ‘no brainer’.

The pair, who have expressed their idea in a motion to the council, will also make the case for the area between Sidford and Sidbury to be formally designated as a ‘green wedge’ - which would afford it special protection from development. Cllr Hughes told the Herald that business units on land east of the garden centre would be easier to screen from view and far more suitable than the mooted Sidford site.

He said: “We have always said between Sidford and Sidbury isn’t the place that you would look to put a business park. It is an area that is renowned for traffic, there are concerns over flooding and it would completely destroy the beautiful view.”

Revisions to the long-awaited East Devon Local Plan – a blueprint for development in the region until 2031 – will be considered at a meeting today (Monday).

The draft plan says Sidmouth needs 12-acres of employment land, which is currently earmarked for farmland on the edge of Sidford in the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposed alternative site adjacent to the garden centre also falls in the AONB, but Mr Hughes said the proposal included the caveat that it would only be developed if there is sufficient demand and there was no more space available at the Alexandria Road Industrial Estate.

He said: “The garden centre site is served by buses, and there are 12 acres available if that’s what is needed – it seems to tick all the boxes.”

Cllr Troman added: “We’re not saying we don’t want any employment land, we’re just proposing another site for it. A lot of the town’s people, the chamber of commerce, and the town council are more supportive of this site than the Sidford one. What we don’t want to see is any urban sprawl closing Sidford and Sidbury up. A big concern for me is the Sidford site could become a retail park in the long term, and that would be a real drain on the businesses in the town.”

Ian Barlow, who owns some of the land surrounding the garden centre, said: “I don’t believe that this town needs 12 acres of industrial land. If they are saying we have to earmark that much, this is the place to do it.”

Bid to move 12-acre employment site - News - Sidmouth Herald

The proposals were passed by the District Council's extraordinary planning committee meeting:

Proposed Sidford Business Park removed from Local Plan

March 26, 2015 by sidmouthsid 2 Comments

By a narrow margin of, we are told, 18 votes to 13, District Councillors at today’s Extra Ordinary meeting at Knowle, have decided to drop the controversial proposal for a 12 acre employment site at Sidford Fields.

Congratulations and thanks to Sidmouth Councillors Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman for proposing the amendment. As a recent commentator on this blog noted recently, Cllr Troman had already argued strongly at the Development Management Committee, that the Sidford site was not justified by the council’s own formulae.

And much credit must also be given to SOS member Marianne Rixson, whose extensive research on flooding and traffic issues was presented to the Inspector at the Examination-in-Public of the previous Local Plan. Her work has solidly informed the debate.

Proposed Sidford Business Park removed from Local Plan | Save Our Sidmouth

The Herald website also carried the story:

Sidford business park removed from development blueprint

27 March 2015 Stephen Sumner

Sidford Valley. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 2244-39-12TI

Divisive plans for a 12-acre business park between Sidford and Sidbury look set to be scrapped after an eleventh-hour bid from Sid Valley representatives.

East Devon District Council yesterday voted 18 to 15 in favour of removing the employment land allocation from the draft Local Plan, its development document until 2031.

But the move could falter - Mark Williams, the authority’s chief executive, warned that members could face the wrath of a Government inspector for pulling it at such a late stage.

See the full story in next Friday’s Herald.

Sidford business park removed from development blueprint - News - Sidmouth Herald

However, as the CEO pointed out, there could be trouble ahead, as the Inspector has rejected such moves in other parts of the country:
Green wedge and tranquil countryside site developed for housing | Planning Resource

There are several questions about the whole process:


27th March 2015

Whose idea was it to put it in the Local Plan?


What, where and with whom is the correspondence that led to the decision?

Still questions about the now-defunct Sidford Business Park | East Devon Watch

Cllrs Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman would like to take matters further:

Saturday: March 28th 2015

Having been successful in moving an amendment for the land at Sidford earmarked for a business/retail park to be removed from the draft Local Plan at East Devon last Thursday 26th March 15 Graham Troman and I are now continuing to push for the second part of our original amendment put to the Special Development Management Committee on Monday 23rd March for the designation of a Green Wedge between Sidford and Sidbury to be included in the final Adopted Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan. 

As I said at the Committee 'I believe that there can be no better candidate than that of the land between the settlements of Sidbury and Sidford firstly to protect the historic village of Sidbury from being absorbed into Sidford and Sidmouth and secondly to maintain the landscape setting in the AONB between the two settlements so that they can be enjoyed by both present and future generations'

It is now imperative that everyone works together in securing this designation for the Sid Valley.


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