Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Local Plan and Sidford

A month ago, there was a lot of public anger over the planning application at Sidford:
Streetlife | What will we end up with?
Streetlife | Can they really get away with it?
Streetlife | Sidford Fields

The problem is that, even though the planning committee rejected the application, it's still in the Local Plan:
Futures Forum: Sidford business park > Fords planning application >>> 16/0669/MOUT >>> REFUSED: but "countryside will still be developed"
Futures Forum: Developing the Sidford employment site: "A Local Plan is not set in stone. It can adapt to ‘material changes’."

Because in the Local Plan it is - whether Sidmouth liked it or not:
Whose fault is it the Local Plan took so long? Sidmouth says EDDC’s Mark Williams!!! | East Devon Watch
Inspector’s recommendations for Sidmouth “a huge disappointment” . | Save Our Sidmouth

Although it had been a long time in the making:
Futures Forum: Sidford Business Park and the East Devon Business Forum
East Devon Business Forum airbrushed out of Local Plan employment land sections | Sidmouth Independent News

Not that anyone was really bothered how the Sidford quota got into the Local Plan:
Sidford Fields employment land: who knew what and when? | East Devon Watch
Who bears the responsibility for putting the Sidford employment site into the Local Plan? Hardly the Inspector, says Councillor. | Save Our Sidmouth

Now the latest Herald is covering the story once again:

Vote to remove Sidford employment site ‘electioneering’

05 November 2016 Stephen Sumner

District council chiefs who voted to remove Sidford’s controversial 12-acre employment site from a strategic plan were in fact powerless to enforce the decision, a campaigner has been told.

Councillor Marianne Rixson last week questioned why – after the decision was made unanimously in March 2015 – officers were never instructed to submit a ‘flood of new evidence’ to put it into action. Despite the last-ditch vote to have it removed, a Government planning inspector later ruled the allocation must remain in East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Local Plan.

The answer to Cllr Rixson’s question, given at last Wednesday’s full EDDC meeting, confirmed the instruction was never given to remove the allocation from the plan - because a public inquiry was already under way.

Members heard that officer advice would have been to allow the planning inspector, who led the inquiry, to ‘reach his own conclusions’.

Last week’s meeting heard: “Members’ resolution to remove the allocation from the plan was, and could only ever have been, a suggestion to the inspector as, following its submission for examination, the council no longer had the power to make changes to it.

“There was, therefore, no opportunity to submit evidence to support this change, however, even if there had been, the evidence produced up to that point had supported its allocation and it is likely that any future evidence would have reached the same conclusion.”

Cllr Rixson, a long-time campaigner against the allocation who was elected last May, said the Conservative-majority council only took the vote because it felt threatened by her and her East Devon Alliance colleagues.

She said: “The final comment [above] confirms our suspicions that EDDC never changed its mind about the Sidford site being in the Local Plan. Voting to ‘remove it’ was purely an electioneering stunt just before the district council elections in 2015.”

An application to develop the employment site into a 9.3-acre business park was refused in September, although EDDC bosses said they remain committed to its development.

Cllr Rixson added: “The recent refusal of the application to develop the site exposed significant planning policies that should have been considered when the Local Plan was being drawn up. The outstanding question is why they did not come to the fore when they could have made an impact on the Local Plan?”

Vote to remove Sidford employment site ‘electioneering’ - News - Sidmouth Herald

Meanwhile, we have the declaration from another local plan about the need to reduce traffic congestion - the County Council's Local Transport Plan: 

p.86 Market  & Coastal Towns
Devon’s market and coastal towns will be better connected to their closest urban area, for the journey to work, access to health care, education, training, leisure and retail. 
Within the towns, people will be supported to make the most of the existing road, rail, bus networks and cycle and footpaths for local trips. 
This will promote more active lifestyles, better accessibility and reduce local congestion.” 


And there are plenty of other issues attached to the Sidbury employment land quota - which eat away at the foundations of there Local Plan:
AONB? It means nothing to developers | East Devon Watch

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