Tuesday, 15 October 2013

District Council - Submission of the new Local Plan........... letter from VGS Futures Forum chair

Parallel to
Futures Forum: District Council - Submission of the new Local Plan........... deadline Monday 7th October........... letter from VGS Futures Forum
this has been sent in as part of the latest consultation on the Local Plan 
from the chair of the Vision Group's Futures Forum:

October 7, 2013

Proposed changes to East Devon Local Development Plan

The amendments to the plan are predominantly thoughtful and sensitive improvements. The officer commentary and explanations throughout the document is extremely helpful.

With specific reference to Sidmouth:

Chapters 65-66:
The Vision for Sidmouth met no serious opposition initially and the minor corrections are welcome, particularly the commitment to improving existing employment sites. Characterising the town as “Regency grandeur” on the basis of a small number of attractive buildings in the southwest may be good branding for the tourist trade but is unhelpfully reductive in evaluating the town’s diverse qualities and rich history for planning and development purposes.

Chapter 67:
Point 2 –
It is regrettable that the plan has not been amended to make it compatible with the vision above particularly in relation to the preservation of the AONB.

Persisting with proposals for 5 hectare employment land provision at Sidford seems wilfully perverse in view of the evidence produced during consultation that the site had been proposed without any proper democratic oversight, that it is in a flood zone that had been incorrectly categorised, that the DCC transport department finds it unacceptable for vehicular access, and that there has been massive and unprecedented public opposition both to the proposal and to the process that led to the proposal.

No justification has been given for this proposal. Indeed, evidence has been ignored that Sidmouth, uniquely in the region, has more workers commuting in than out, suggesting the priority is for affordable housing for keyworkers rather than for new employment land. In this connection, amendments to Strategy 34 in paragraph 76 appear particularly welcome, if only as a realistic aspiration. The amended plan seems to add to its inappropriateness by suggesting the possibility of retail activity on the site, which would threaten further damage to the infrastructure, environment, and balanced economic life of the town.

Point 5 –
Deletion of “park and ride” provision seems unjustified. “Park and walk” is also needed. In the absence of a long awaited traffic survey we have to rely on the substantial anecdotal evidence that the town centre is congested with vehicles that are predominantly on short journeys. Although “Park and ride” facilities near the A3052 may be a regional and county transport strategy requirement this will not answer the needs of Sidmouth residents, increasing numbers of whom are frail and elderly. Provision should be “both/and”rather than “either/or”.

Ch. 68 An apostrophe is needed after “communities” – “supporting communities’ social well being” or  “supporting the community’s social well being.

Ch. 98 Stratgey 48 on Open Space Provision is one example among many of the welcome introduction of a balanced and sensitive approach in the amended local plan.

Robert Crick
Resident of Sidmouth Eastern Town

Chair of the Futures Forum of the Vision Group for Sidmouth

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