Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Sidford, employment land and the demographic time bomb

Businesses are being asked for their input
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: New survey aimed at businesses and special interest groups >>> fill in online or download a form
... and young people are getting involved in mapping out the future of the Valley:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: New survey for the Valley's youth

One area that will have to be addressed is jobs - and in particular, 'what to do with the employment land site earmarked at Sidford':
Futures Forum: Seven alternative options to develop Sidford's AONB

As part of the ongoing discussion thread at Streetlife, the issue of a 'demographic time bomb' has been considered:

Can they really get away with it?

Peter M

I don't want to debate demographics other than to say the 'time bomb' phrase was offered to me by a long term resident of Sidmouth who runs one of our well-known inns.  This person observed that employers here have to have staff to help with their business, and if we do not attract and retain people of working age and enable them to find somewhere to live, our businesses will find life difficult.

Yesterday I attended the Annual Forum given by the AONB to nearly one hundred guests, held at Seaton Jurassic. The manager there gave us an astonishing insight into the scale of current and projected visitors. Now that's what I call a successful attraction!

Of course Sidmouth is a desirable town in which to live, and retire if that is one's stage in life. Of course we are largely residential, and with an elderly population we need a range of health and care provisions to provide for their needs. But we are also a town with some quite amazing hotels, inns, guest houses and bed and breakfasts, and an enviable heritage and coastline. And you are quite right to talk about the need for new attractions.

The Neighbourhood Plan is not only consulting businesses in the current survey, but also young people whose input is providing great insight which will eventually feed into NP Planning.
I too attended the AONB event, and was most impressed with the presentation by John Sheaves of Taste of the West.   He stressed the connection between local food production and landscape, and between food and economic success through tourism.   He was positive and inspiring and made me confident of a future that embraced these objectives.    He also stressed the need for quality and excellence:  in my view this should be the trademark of Sidmouth.    We should do everything to raise standards and improve all aspects of our town.  It can be done - others are doing it.

We need to maintain and improve our built environment, and to respect our rural surroundings.   This is the way to provide jobs for the future, and deliver lifestyle and well being for our residents.    This is, I think, a widely shared, almost unanimous, view within our community.  
Have you completed the following business and special interest groups survey for the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan?
I thought I'd back up my point of view on the demographics issue! The image attached  is taken from v1.1 November 2011Joint Strategic Needs Assessment Market Town Profile 2010-11 prepared by The NHS, Devon CC, and Devon Public Health Intelligence Team. The full document is available at the link below. 
If my maths serve me, the age bracket 0-64 is predicted to fall 28.2% and the age group of 65+ is predicted to rise by 50%, I guess the missing bits might be your assumed static state. But on page 15 of this document, it gets even more specific:

In 2010 there were an estimated 168,500 older people 65+ in Devon. It is predicted that this will increase to 264,400 by 2030, representing a 57% increase (2010 to 2030). It is predicted that the most significant increases in population will be in the 80-84 and 85+ age bands up to 2020, with percentage increases of 83% and 104% respectively.

If I may go back to my original point, whilst it's lovely here and we want to keep it that way, in order to support a thriving economy an element of growth and regeneration is not only desirable but essential.

So, we need sustainable development, and a vision for Sidmouth that will see the Sid Vale continue to be a great place to live and work for the next 15 year plan.



@ Peter M

I'm not sure we are facing a demographic timebomb in Sidmouth:  in fact the average age is falling in Sidmouth, according to the last census.   We are one of very few towns where this is the case.   Having said that, we obviously have a very high elderly population, and we  probably need the trend to continue.
The explanation for Sidmouth's younger population, I understand, is that the computer age allows many people to work from home, and they can choose where to live and bring up their families.   And pleasingly, they seem to choose Sidmouth.   For the same reason, National Parks are seeing faster economic growth than the rest of the country.

I was very struck by a survey done in the run-up to the Local Plan.  69% of Sidmouth's youngsters wanted to remain in the town as adults.  The corresponding figure for other East Devon towns was 19%.    Sidmouth's youth apparently liked the lovely environs of the town, and the fact that we have almost no unemployment.   It was suggested that Sidmouth had good social cohesion, a positive attitude towards youth, and excellent general amenities.

... ...
The area is earmarked in the Local Plan (EDDC level) so sooner or later something will happen there. What was rejected was inappropriate use of the land in the context of our landscape and infrastructure, in my opinion. 
Careers is an interesting concept; Andy at the Salty Monk is helping train young people for jobs in the catering industry, and he's a prime example of how to get it right.

Have your say in the neighbourhood plan which is all about capturing ideas and vision. Businesses and Special Interest Groups can submit their views online throughout October. After that there will be a second round of Community consultations building on the analyses of the first Household Questionnaire, and after that there will Focus Groups zeroing in on the key issues that will guide the future of the Sid Valley for the next fifteen years.

Streetlife | Can they really get away with it?

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