Our main objective is to ensure that East Devon District Council (EDDC) takes into account the wishes and comments of civic groups and the residents of the town in the preparation of the EDDC Local Development Plan. This is the plan that determines the development strategy for the next 15 years for the council area. It has specific proposals for Sidmouth and Sidford.
We also wish, in the longer term, to encourage and assist Sidmouth Town Council (STC) to prepare a “Neighbourhood Plan”.
The Local Development Plan is in preparation by EDDC and the last draft was published late last year for public comment. The above organisations commented, as did many individuals. EDDC are considering these and will publish their final draft in the summer of 2012.
Specifically the plan proposes an employment area of 12 acres in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Sidford. They have abandoned plans to develop housing and employment at Woolbrook.
Very little if any justification is given for the proposals.
Significant omissions from the plan include:
• Proposals for regeneration of the Eastern (Port Royal) end of town
• The probable vacation of the Knowle by EDDC, and the effect that this would have on the town.
• Any overall traffic or pedestrian strategy.
Since we commented officially on the Plan, we have become aware of other, more specific, EDDC proposals, relating to the sites for new housing estates and employment land.
The organisations forming SOS are not against development; we would for instance welcome some Affordable Housing in the town. However we believe that proposals in the Plan lack justification and that decisions are being taken by EDDC that do not properly reflect public interest and concerns.
Astrophysicist and rock guitarist, Dr Brian May, added his name to the Save Our Sidmouth petition, making the point that Observatories can’t fully function without Dark Skies. On his first visit to the Norman Lockyer Observatory in 1960, that was already a problem. But the 12 acre business park (on AONB land at Sidford) in EDDC’s proposed Local Development Plan, would add another area of light pollution, affecting the NLO’s increasingly important work.
At the Observatory’s Centenary Celebration on 20th May this year, Dr May officially opened the splendid new Connaught Dome, which was funded by local sponsors including the Town Council, to house the Newtonian reflector telescope, donated by NLO Chairman, David Strange. Yet thirty years ago , the NLO site risked being sold to developers!
Owners of the land since 1984, EDDC have made the far-sighted decision to support the Observatory, for the public good, and the importance of that legacy is clear.
If you consider that existing natural resources (e.g. agricultural land, and dark skies) are vital assets now and for future generations, please post your comments on http://www.saveoursidmouth.com
Sir Patrick Moore also kindly signed the SOS petition, being concerned with the Dark Skies issue. Large scale development in the Sid Valley would inevitably affect telescope viewing at the renowned Norman Lockyer Observatory.