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“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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It’s East Devon – you pay for your fun here!

15 Aug

From the Exmouth Herald website where EDDC’s plans for Exmouth waterfront are revealed in their latest press release:

“On the western side of the area, to the east of the old RNLI boat house, the existing Fun Park would make way for a pay-to enter play and recreation facility, which would stretch to the eastern edge of what is now Jungle Fun.”

It also says:

The new Queen’s Drive Leisure Area would see the demolition of most of the existing Queen’s Drive businesses to the east of the old lifeboat station to the cricket club.  But existing tenants would continue to be fully consulted on the plans council bosses have pledged.

That’s nice of them isn’t it.

Looking back, looking forward

15 May

Some musings from Sidmouth Sid, on the outcome of past EDDC elections. And looking forward to the next one, in 2015) .

The interesting thing is that if Sidmouth had elected 7 independents rather than 7 conservatives, we would have been guaranteed representation on the Committees by law. When you consider that the Local Plan Panel voted 5-4 in favour of the Sidford employment land allocation, and there was no Sidmouth member present, there is a good chance that the Sidford proposal would not have gone through, because our guaranteed independent member would obviously have voted against. Moreover, the LPP had no local knowledge of the site.
At the Planning Committee, Sidmouth would have had two guaranteed representatives rather than one. Sidmouth was the only town at the July 17 DMC meeting to have its representations ignored: had we had two guaranteed independent members rather than one, we might have prevailed. Again Sidford and Knowle might have been kicked into touch.
Finally, with seven more independents, the political balance of the whole council would be different, and there is a good chance that the ruling Conservatives would have felt morally compelled to invite non-Conservatives to sit in the Cabinet. Again Sidmouth might then have a voice, whereas at the moment we are not represented.

Who are the reprobates photographed in today’s newspaper?

28 Feb

Just who are the bunch of reprobates photographed HERE by the press at last night’s Full Council meeting!  Sidmothians will probably recognise most of them!

EDBF, Alexandria Road, Sidford Fields,Port Royal, transparency, accountability – you are not forgotten

22 Feb

Of need, minds are concentrated on the Development Management Committee meeting on 1 March 2013.

However, we have not forgotten our other issues – we put them back under the microscope very soon.

What you can do when access to a site is a problem

23 Oct

Article here about a Morrison store in Plymouth which wants to expand by building a huge extension and a larger car park.  They basically want to double the size of the store.  Planners said that it should be refused because access and traffic would be a problem.  Morrisons withdrew the plans at the last minute to revamp the access and are resubmitting them.  This is what supermarkets do and eventually they seem to find a solution to their problems.  Morrisons went on to say “The firm said it has listened planners and neighbouring residents, and revised its plans to ensure “traffic keeps moving in and around the store and to prevent congestion on any of the neighbouring roads”, though oddly consultation is being done INSIDE their store and not outside, so only their shoppers are being asked for their opinions – something that often happens with consultations it seems.

We are constantly being told that the problem with the Alexandria Industrial estate growth is access and that a supermarket would never go there because of this.  This shows what a supermarket is prepared to do to get that kind of access problem sorted if it wants to expand – start small then double up, keep hammering away and eventually you succeed.  This has already happened in Axminster where the Tesco store got planning permission for a second floor, though they have not built it, presumably because a lot of their customers now shop in Seaton.  There was also the plan for Tesco to move in Honiton so that they could double up too, though that one got knocked on the head because it was said that trade in Honiton would suffer (whereas the efect on trade in Axminster and Seaton was not considered a problem).  Where there is a will there is a way.  So, it is no use saying a supermarket would not be interested in a site with so-called poor access.

Some may say that there is no money for Joe Public to make access improvements so that an industrial site does not have to move.  This is not true.  Councils can now basically put a tax on development called the “Community Infrastructure Levy” which is paid per square metre of development elsewhere.  According to the Department of Communities and Local Government

“The money can be used to support development by funding infrastructure that the council, local community and neighbourhoods want – for example new or safer road schemes, park improvements or a new health centre. The system is very simple. It applies to most new buildings and charges are based on the size and type of the new development.”

So, for example, developers in the west side of East Devon (where it might be said to help Exeter commuters more than East Devon residents) could be made to pay this levy and Sidmouth and the other towns and villages of East Devon could benefit.

East Devon District Council set up a Task and Finish Forum (TAFF) to decide how much the Community Infrastructure Levy should be for East Devon’s developers.  Unfortunately, on EDDC’s website there appears to be nothing about how much progress it has made except the agendas of two meetings, the last one on 27 June 2012 – no minutes.

Members of this TAFF are:  Graham Troman (Chairman, Sidmouth Sidford),  Mike Allen (Honiton, St Michaels), Peter Bowden (Broadclyst), Mike Howe (Clyst Valley), Sheila Kerridge (Sidmouth Town), Tim Wood (Exmouth Littleham) and Claire Wright (Ottery St Mary Rural) so, oddly for this one it is a western end of East Devon bias, totally opposite to that of the Cabinet and it is the west of East Devon that might lose out here!

Why is EDDC and the TAFF dragging its heels on taxing developers?  The old Section 106 payments are now going down the drain, so that source of income is drying up for EDDC and anyway that money had to be spent close to the development itself -CIL can be spent anywhere in the district. Perhaps we should ask them what progress is being made as this could solve some of the district’s pressing problems.

And now we see here today that the “Exeter Growth Point” has been awarded an £8 million grant for infrastructure improvements.  To them that hath shall be given!