Developer targets Sidmouth’s green belt
10:44 10 January 2014
FEARS have been expressed for another swathe of Sidmouth’s green belt as one of the UK’s largest developers looks set to argue that a huge plot should be utilised for homes.
Persimmon will propose to a government planning inspector that its site off Woolbrook Road could be allocated for housing when a public inquiry is held over the district council’s Local Plan in February.
The land, which is in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), was deemed ‘deliverable and developable’ and big enough for 257 homes by the authority in 2010 and is opposite a 95-property development recently completed by the firm.
However, the plot was not included in the draft Local Plan – with a total of 150 houses earmarked for Knowle, the Manstone Depot and Port Royal instead. The 12-year blueprint, a vision for the future of East Devon, also features contentious proposals for a business park of up to 12 acres in the AONB between Sidford and Sidbury.
Britain’s oldest civic society, the Sid Vale Association (SVA), is among organisations under the Save Our Sidmouth umbrella which have raised £25,000 for a specialist planning consultant to battle such proposals at the inquiry.
Chairman Alan Darrant said Persimmon’s move was ‘predictable’ and would be contested.
He added: “The AONB should be preserved and it shouldn’t be built on unless there are exceptional reasons.”
“If Persimmon were to build there, the 150 homes [in the draft Local Plan] would become an irrelevance – Sidmouth would be delivering far in excess.”
Mr Darrant said more needed to be done to assist young people in getting on the property ladder - but the ‘vast majority’ of homes that had been built were ‘helping the wrong people’.
He thanked those who contributed £13,600 in donations towards the planning consultant. The sum has been match-funded by the SVA.
Simon Perks, managing director for Persimmon Homes South West, said: “I do not want to pre-empt our views at the inquiry other than to say that we are committed to promoting well-designed housing that is sustainable and provides much-needed new housing in all of our operating areas.”