“Flood zone 3A will become Flood Zone 3B by 2025” , Sidmouth hearing told.

26 Feb

Yesterday’s resumed Hearings into EDDC’s Local Plan took a long hard look at the proposal for housing at Sidmouth  and  a 12.5 acre business park at Sidford.

 A score of speakers representing Sidmouth Town Council, Sidmouth  Chamber of Commerce, Save our Sidmouth and Sidmouth and Sidford residents put the case against the Council’s controversial employment land allocation. Some highlights:

1.       The council’s justification for the scale of the proposed development appeared about as robust as a dead duck.

a)      A succession of speakers pointed out the EDDC’s own figures for the number of houses planned (150) would justify  a couple of acres of employment land at most (preferably on several small scale, mostly existing, sites) .

b)      Unemployment in Sidmouth was minimal.

c)       Currently in-commuters exceeded out-commuters: a big new business park  would drag in hundreds more workers defeating the Council’s  aim of reducing commuting.

2.       The Sidford site ticked all the ‘disastrous choice’ boxes.

a)      It would sacrifice a chunk of the AONB in one of the most visible places.

b)      It’s on a flood plain, and would likely  make flooding worse, including lower down the Sid.

c)       It would fatally weaken the  ‘green gap ‘ between Sidford and Sidbury.

d)      It’s not accessible: two lorries can’t pass in School Street leading to the site.

3.       EDDC seem to have looked at alternative sites with a Nelson’s eye, apparently losing one rival landowners proposal, and according to another one, dismissing his offer because of his continuing feud with the council.

4.       EDDC’s plan was valiantly defended by………….the agent for the promoter of the site!

5.       When the Council team put their oar in, it splintered! The planning officer was given the equivalent of six of the best by the Inspector­­- who would make an excellent headmaster- when he confessed, that EDDC had failed to conduct its own flood risk assessment on the Sidford.

Never mind, the Council had complete confidence in the promoter’s consultant’s research which concluded building a business park was the ultimate flood defence!(Expensive business, if Halcrow Report about Flood zone 3A proves right!)

6.       Attention finally turned to the Alexandria Road site which most speakers thought was under-used. The promoter’s agent predictably condemned it as unfit for purpose, and the access impossible to improve.

7.       Some irreverent wag commented that the big supermarket lined up to move in to Alex would quickly solve this problem.

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