Saturday, 16 June 2018

Sidford business park >>> “Sidmouth’s outstanding natural environment is a key asset - and conservation, enhancement and sensitive management of the landscape, heritage and wildlife of the area is critical.”

There is actually no need for this proposed industrial estate on the edge of Sidford:
Futures Forum: VGS comment on Fords planning application 18/1094/MOUT >>> "there is no proven need for this particular business park"
Futures Forum: Sidford business park >>> "One of the many reasons why we do not need a new site in Sidford is that many of our employment sites are dormant - because East Devon’s current Local Plan is based upon an anticipated annual UK economic growth rate of 3% from 2007, which has turned out to be just over 1%."

These and other points have been powerfully put together by Graham Cooper, who has sent in the following submission, reproduced here with permission: 

FAO Central Planning,EDDC Knowle Sidmouth Devon

Outline Application for the development of Employment facilities on land adjacent to Two Bridges Sidford. 18/1094/MOUT

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to register my opposition to the above proposed application and refer you to my previous objection dated 8th June 2016 which remains relevant.

According to East Devon Local Plan - strategy 26, “Sidmouth’s outstanding natural environment is a key asset and conservation, enhancement and sensitive management of the landscape, heritage and wildlife of the area is critical” While strategy 46 in Local Plan states that development inside an AONB ‘must conserve and enhance the landscape character of the area’.

A renowned Regency resort, Sidmouth, is situated in magnificent natural surroundings which will be irreparably damaged by such a development. Scaring the Sid Valley’s picturesque countryside, the environmental and economic impact of this ugly intrusion will be considerable. The development would be detrimental to the long-term viability of the Sid Valley as a high-quality visitor destination. It makes no strategic or economic sense having another industrial estate development along the A3052 in a location which will damaged the tourism trade and be harmful to businesses in the Sidmouth town centre. Tourism is the main economic driver and due to its commercial vibrancy, Sidmouth has very low unemployment and has long attracted workers from across the district. Undermining the future sustainability of the community. there is no evidence that a speculative out-of-town business park can be justified. Building commercial estates on AONB land is regarded as bad planning practice, particularly when there is sufficient brownfield capacity available elsewhere in the Sid Valley.

Unsupported Need: 

The demand for industrial/commercial space is low and no evidence has been provided by the applicant of significant shortage to support this development. The proposed employment land is excessive and bears no relation to local need and an increasingly retired demography. The Local Plan places “particular onus on B1 spaces” (with ancillary retail) but there is no local shortage of office space and any further retail will undoubtedly divert business away from the town centre. East Devon’s current Local Plan is based upon an anticipated annual UK economic growth rate of 3%, which from 2007 is reported to be just over 1%. Many of the employment sites across the district therefore remain dormant while the High Street shops are struggling. According to EDDC’s own statistics, even with 3% economic growth we would still have an estimated over-supply of 33% employment land above what is required. There simply isn’t the demand which is one of the many reasons why we do not need a new site in Sidford.

There is enough spare capacity on the Alexandria Industrial Estate to meet Sidmouth’s future employment needs. Instead of concreting over class 2 agriculture land it is more sensible to refigure the Alexandria IE which will easily accommodate the amount of land required for the modest amount of employment space required in the town. (All it requires is a simple T junction onto the road at Bulverton.) The above application is not about accommodating future employment need or benefit to the community and there is no “exceptional need” to build over AONB land. In fact, the controversial two Bridges site should not have been in the Local Plan from the outset as there was a clear indication from the Atkins and Tym Reports that the demand for employment land in Sidmouth was comparatively low. Instead the excessive designation was based on exaggerated claims made by the applicant through the now disbanded East Devon Business Forum and its disgraced chairman and former district councillor, who through a back-channel network considerably increased the amount of employment land in the Local Plan.

Poor connectivity and access: 

The development will cause major congestion on the local village roads, which mostly without pavements are too narrow and dangerous for any additional traffic. Contrary to the Local Plan, the development will increase inward-commuting and heavy-goods vehicle movements across the valley causing environment pollution and impacting further on inadequate roads and the forty or so listed roadside cottages in the villages of Sidford and Sidbury. The increase volume and size of vehicles will result in the narrow School Street being jammed, causing a backlog of traffic attempting to leave Sidmouth at the Sidford Cross junction. This congestion will disrupt public transport in the area, causing people to miss their train connections. In Sidbury there are width restrictions at the Cotford bridge and elsewhere in the village where the narrow road and blind-bends regularly lead to traffic blockages. There are also concerns in the village about speeding vehicles and the safety of families taking their children to and from the primary school.

The emerging Neighbourhood Plan refers to numerous compelling planning reasons why the above application must be rejected.

These include:

Policy 02 Protection of Key Views (Trow Hill, north west to Sidbury Fort)

Policy 03 Settlement coalescence and green wedges (Impact on AONB)

Policy 04 Green (Wildlife) Corridors (River Sid and tributaries from Sidford to Cotford.

Policy 08 Light Pollution (Noise and light pollution}

Yours sincerely

Graham Cooper

18/1094/MOUT | Outline application accompanied by an Environmental Statement (with scale and appearance reserved) for the change of use of agricultural land to employment land (B1, B8 and D1 uses) to provide 8,445 sqm of new floorspace, new highway access, cycle and footway, improvements to flood attenuation, building layout and road layout, new hedgerow planting and associated infrastructure. | Land East Of Two Bridges Two Bridges Road Sidford

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