Thursday, 15 June 2017

Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched >>> the main themes so far

Sidmouth and surrounds is undoubtedly a very nice place to live and visit:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: Is the Sid Valley an exceptional place to live?

The latest questionnaire is now out - to see how we can make sure the Sid Valley remains so:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched

The press releases for the past weeks have been focussed on specific themes in the questionnaire:


Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan

The area of Eastern Town, known locally, as Port Royal, is arguably one of the most desirable parcels of real estate to be up for development on the entire Jurassic coast. With its enviable views, maritime heritage and proximity to Sidmouth town centre and Promenade, we might reasonably expect that developers will be rubbing their hands with glee at how the space might be developed.

To some extent, what will be developed there is already laid out in the EDDC local plan, who will ‘Promote a mixed-use redevelopment of the East End and Drill Hall site on the Esplanade… Land for residential use is allocated for 30 homes (Site ED03) which will incorporate mixed use redevelopment to including housing and community, commercial, recreation and other uses’.

The Port Royal Scoping Study group underway on behalf of STC and EDDC has asked the Neighbourhood Plan team to provide community feedback on the Port Royal in time to be considered for the initial decisions that will be taken by STC and EDDC in July. Chair DH said “The last survey of the Neighbourhood Plan will arrive in householder’s letterboxes early this coming week and asks questions about Port Royal and what residents would like to see included in the development.”

Eastern Town is the area east of Fore Street and High Street, north along the River up to The Byes, including Port Royal, the riverside Ham green and boat park, the swimming pool and the various car parks.  

The results of past Neighbourhood Plan surveys have showed that those residents who responded had no major disagreement with the EDDC Local Plan proposals for the area, and believed that it should be redeveloped to provide an attractive area for residents and visitors.

Most respondents wanted the Port Royal area to reflect Sidmouth’s coastal heritage by retaining sea based activities like sailing and fishing. They envisaged that the mixed development should include a space for cultural and community events, should be of high quality and suggested well designed development including Retail and Restaurants

It is clear that any development of this area will be largely dependent on commercial funding. The current study, “The Port Royal Scoping Study” is looking into the constraints on the area - landownership and current uses. It is also looking at outline scenarios for development and the necessary funding and its likelihood

For development to proceed, there might have to be a tradeoff between what is thought desirable for the area and what is financially possible.

Deirdre Hounsom said: “The emerging Neighbourhood Plan when made, can influence several aspects of any development such as the height of new buildings, the architectural style and even for example specify the types of materials to be used. This latest survey will provide further evidence of residents hopes and wishes for this important development including the type of housing, transport and parking, and community spaces.”
For further information contact Deirdre Hounson, Chair, Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan at Deirdre Hounsom d.hounsom@hotmail.com or by phone: 07970 814568

Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched > and the Port Royal Scoping Study


Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan

Earlier in the week the final survey of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan was mailed to all households in the Sid Valley. This week, The Herald looks at the questions related to our built environment and natural surroundings which together create our enviable town and landscapes, attracting people to visit, live and work here.

SVNP Chair Deirdre Hounsom said “The Vision Statement, which is published on our website, was inspired by the feedback we received from over 1100 residents who completed the first Household Questionnaire. In it, we state that the community vision is one which conserves and enhances our enviable picturesque location on the Jurassic Coast. It nurtures and promotes the ambience of our community to which both residents and visitors connect… Appropriate developments should complement and protect our natural environment whilst improving the existing built environment in our town and villages in both scale and character.’

Our consultations over the past year confirm beyond doubt that residents cherish the special nature of the Sid Valley so we need to produce planning policies which protect our unique towns, villages and countryside from unwelcome types of change. People are concerned to ensure that effective measures are in place to control any development within the Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) and Policies should also focus on protecting our public open places such as parklands, the Byes, the Knowle, Blackmore and Connaught Gardens, all of which enhance our quality of life

She continued: “One of the questions in the current survey asks if it’s important to retain the historic appearance and distinctiveness of the Sid Valley and whether the Neighbourhood Plan should produce specific design guidance for all future developments. To retain the stunning views of the townscape and countryside it was felt the height and spread of any new developments should respect the character and scale of the existing neighbourhood for which it is intended. 

We are also asking residents to comment on ‘settlement creep’ outside the Built-Up Area Boundaries as, beyond these areas, development is only allowed in exceptional circumstances. ​​A Neighbourhood Plan principle for development of “brown field” sites first before approval of any new out-of-town applications might be another recommendation. Maps illustrating the Sidmouth and Sidford Built-Up Area Boundaries and position within the AONB which encircles Sidmouth can be viewed on the new Neighbourhood Plan website: 

We are also seeking views on a range of issues affecting our natural environment, for example the loss of natural wildlife habitats, maintenance of the valley’s tree canopy, and minimising future light pollution. 

Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched > getting the balance of the Sid Valley's natural and built environments right


Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan

This week, we discuss the background to three topics covered in the final Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire: Housing, Transport, and Economic Resilience.

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

Almost anything that uses land and needs planning permission can go into a Neighbourhood Plan, giving communities the power to create a shared vision and decide the future for development and growth for their local areas. After public consultations, the approval of a draft plan and a final referendum, this vision is consolidated in a statutory plan which lasts for 15 years.

The provisions of a Neighbourhood Plan cannot override the provisions of the Local Plan, but can influence such things as where new homes, shops and offices are to be built, what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided in support.

Local councillors approve or reject planning applications at a planning committee and must base their decision both on the bigger picture within the Local Plan, existing regulations/legislation and the more detailed provisions contained in an adopted Neighbourhood Plan. In combination, these statutory implements lay down a strong vision for how a town or village will look like for many years to come.


Councillor Michael Earthey commented: “The EDDC Local Plan has allocated 150 homes within the Sid Valley located at the Knowle (50), Eastern Town (30) and the Manstone depot (20).  This is a minimum total of 100 with further windfall number as yet unknown – although 50 are planned. Strategy 34 of the Local Plan requires 50% of new build to be affordable housing.  Strategy 21 further states that new builds must meet first and foremost the needs of local people.

Our consultations so far have given an indication of the type of housing and tenure that the residents of the Sid Valley would like. It’s evident that sustainable growth is welcomed by residents, with housing policies that meet the needs of both our current and future population.  This final Questionnaire will confirm these findings and provide us with significant new data aimed at measuring real future demand. We will then have solid evidence to enable policies to be written that will ensure realistic levels of expansion of the housing stock.

We know there is a need in the Sid Valley for a gradual but sensitive increase in housing numbers to enable the continued growth and vitality of the Valley, and obviously we have limited land within the Built-Up Area Boundaries on which we can build. This final survey will ask people for their views on a range of issues, for example the number and type of houses we will need by size, tenure and ownership, and whether they are in favour of development within AONB land.

We need to write policies which meet both needs and aspirations of the Sid Valley, and provide for future viability and economic success. The survey asks whether affordable housing should only be sold to people who have links with the Sid Valley area. We will also be looking at the number of second homes, currently approximately 341, and a policy will be formulated to ensure that second homes do not remain empty for most of the year. This can only apply however to new build homes and cannot be the subject to retrospective action.”

The EDDC local plan makes limited provision for transport improvements. Included are mention of Park and Ride provision, and upgrade of, or new access to the Alexandria Road Industrial Estate. Significantly for Sidmouth, EDDC plan, “working with partners, to reduce the impact of traffic on the town centre, opening up potential for further pedestrianisation. “

Steering Group member Claire Russell said: “How we travel through our community impacts on our health and wellbeing, safety, community cohesion, the environment and other people. If our transport routes can be improved we can all benefit. We need an integrated transport system in the Sid Valley which offers safe routes for motorised vehicles, mobility scooters, bicycles, skateboards and pedestrians for both locals and visitors of all ages.”

The current, final survey seeks to gauge resident’s support for these EDCC plans to lay the groundwork for effective collaboration as the Local Plan initiatives start to take shape. It asks for views on a safe pedestrian/cycle crossing over the A3052 to link with existing and future cycle and walking trails, and the proposed shared-use pathway from Sidford to Sidbury. Also opinions are sought on a requirement for shared-use paths on all new housing developments, with links to existing paths in the Sid Valley.

Economic Resilience

Peter Murphy, Economic Resilience Theme leader, commented:
“The Business and Special Interest Groups survey earlier in the year provided us with a large amount of feedback on a wide range of issues relevant to our continued economic prosperity. In this final survey, we seek to establish levels of community support for relevant coverage in the EDDC local plan, for example measures and projects aimed at increasing our attractiveness as a visitor destination, extending our tourist season, and improvements to the availability and quality of offices and retail space.

We ask for residents’ views on measures we might take to create employment opportunities and encourage start-up businesses especially with a view to encouraging young people to stay in the Sid Valley. In a sense, issues related to our economic vitality are implicit in many of the questions we ask in this final survey, recognising that for people to want to visit, live, work and set up business here, we have to both keep it vibrant, and make progress to keep pace with modern expectations. Our Vision Statement is explicit on this:

‘Our vision is of a Sid Valley that maintains and promotes its rural coastal beauty and welcoming community, and advances its appeal to young and old through providing a vibrant diverse economy which supports a high quality of living, working and visiting.’”

The new Neighbourhood Plan website: www.sidvalleyneighbourhoodplan.com

Early response to the Survey is running high, and the Steering Group are hoping for maximum community response to this final survey to help inform the evidence base on which the foundations of our Draft Plan can be built.” The survey closes on 30th June 2017.

Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched > housing, transport and economic resilience

See also:
Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan – Shaping our Future Together

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