Friday, 21 October 2016

Alternatives to the Sidford business park

There is growing disquiet around the validity of the Sidford employment land allocation as it stands in the Local Plan:
Futures Forum: Developing the Sidford employment site: "A Local Plan is not set in stone. It can adapt to ‘material changes’."

The Herald has carried letters questioning just that:

Opinion - Retired architect: 
‘There’s viable alternatives for Sidmouth business park’

18 October 2016

Fire Beacon Nature Reserve. Ref shs 17-16TI 9790. Picture: Terry Ife

Council’s stance ignores huge objections to controversial plan, says reader in letter

Re Employment land proposals for Two Bridges Road, Sidford.

Your front page in the Herald of September 30 and the statement from East Devon District Council (EDDC), that it is still committed to seeing this site in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) used for employment purposes, speaks volumes about the attitude of those concerned.

To me, the authority is showing contempt for the proposed destruction of AONB, grade two agricultural land, the insurmountable traffic bottle-neck problems, severe flood risk and numerous environmental damage aspects, and totally ignoring a 1,100-signature petition against the proposals and 384 written objections to the latest application.

The grounds on which the latest application was rejected ‘in its present form’ would suggest to any intelligent person that the site is unsuitable for development in any form. In my opinion, and that of many others, the council’s decision at the last minute before the EDDC Local Plan was due to be approved by the planning inspector was a political ploy in the full knowledge that, by not providing a viable alternative site location, the planning inspector would reinstate the site to comply with the requirement to make provision for future employment within the designated plan area.

Going forward, I would strongly recommend that the Save Our Sidmouth group or the Say No to the Business Park group set up crowdfunding to pay for professional advice, both legal and planning consultancy, to have this site replace in the approved EDDC Local Plan with a viable alternative.

Several years ago, a group of us produced a plan proposing the construction of a traffic light controlled T-junction into the existing Alexandria Industrial Estate from the Bulverton Road. This proposal would have allowed the development of three sensitively designed two-storey office units, satisfying the B1 requirements, on the old railway track area fronting onto the Bulverton Road, but serviced from the Alexandria Industrial Estate Site side. Whilst this land does not currently form part of the industrial site, the vastly increased value of the land should be an incentive for the current owner to participate in the proposal, including selling the land for the access road. This would see the existing industrial estate having more than adequate space to expand or redevelop and still leave sufficient area for any additional employment requirements. So there is a viable alternative to the proposed site at Two Bridges Road.

I reiterate that I believe that it is possible to have the EDDC Local Plan amended, provided that a viable alternative is proposed. This would ‘scupper’ once and for all the authority’s desire and determination to try to see the destruction of this AONB, to the permanent detriment of the Sid Valley, by allowing this totally unnecessary development.

Now is the time to act, not when it is too late.

Ian Maxwell Scott (retired architect)

Sidvale Close, Sidford

Opinion - Retired architect: ‘There’s viable alternatives for Sidmouth business park’ - News - Sidmouth Herald

Sidmouth Herald: Opinion – 
‘Plenty of land elsewhere for business park’

Written by East Devon Alliance on 20-Oct-2016. Posted in EDA in the Press, Marianne Rixson

‘Change the Local Plan for Sidmouth,’ says resident

It is good that the proposed business park at Two Bridges has been rejected. However, the reasons the application failed are not matters of detail that can be improved, but fundamental to any such development.

The roads from Sidford Cross up through Sidbury are just not suitable for additional business traffic and any development will be glaringly obtrusive from all the surrounding hills of this AONB, however well ‘landscaped’.

As Councillor Rixson said, why this site was designated in the Local Plan in the first place is incomprehensible, particularly when there is plenty of land elsewhere in the AONB more suitable for employment use. For example: the flat and featureless land south of the A3052 opposite the existing Kingsdown Business Park, or between the road and Trow Hill lane, or some of The Donkey Sanctuary’s dreary fields next to the road. No doubt there are others. Any of these would give good access to the main road, a good bus route, with no need for traffic from Honiton or the A30 trailing through Sidbury. They would be overlooked by no-one, require minimal work to mitigate flood risk – and would disturb fewer bats.

So change the Local Plan, it should guide development in the interests of the community as a whole, not landowners.

Martin Ward

Sidmouth Herald: Opinion - ‘Plenty of land elsewhere for business park’ « East Devon Alliance

See also:
Futures Forum: The future of the Alexandria Road Industrial Estate (March 2014)
Futures Forum: Devon County are 'now looking into' access to Alexandria Road Industrial Estate (March 2015)
Futures Forum: Sidford business park: and Alexandria Rd business park and the Local Plan >>> so many questions and so few answers (February 2016)

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