Park and change and housing proposed for Woolbrook

13:00 18 March 2014

Archant

Continued building in open space at Woolbrook is Sidmouth’s best option to house future generations, say civic leaders.

The development could be linked to a new business site near the garden centre, while a new junction and a ‘park and change’ site could improve road safety and cut traffic.

But a proposed rate of just 50 houses constructed in the next decade was dismissed by house builders Persimmon as too little to be cost effective – after East Devon District Council (EDDC) took its site out of the Local Plan.

Speaking on behalf of Sidmouth Town Council, John Dyson said: “EDDC agreed that [land north of Woolbrook Road] was the only feasible and practical site – we cannot understand why it was taken out.

“We see it as the only realistic site for housing on a large scale if we look forward 20 years or more.

“We’ve got to spread it out as long as possible and not rush it all at once.”

The proposed site is currently farmland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Sidmouth Garden Centre owner Ian Barlow is touting a site next to his business as an alternative to the Sidford employment land allocation, and said adding a roundabout would reduce accidents involving vehicles coming off the A3052.

“The plans have lost their way. Sidmouth doesn’t need a massive, five-hectare site [at Sidford] – it needs small units for its small businesses,” said Mr Barlow.

“EDDC has spent 10 years arguing not to build in the AONB but now government policy has changed and they are saying you can do it.”

Persimmon representative Robin Upton said Devon County Council had been looking for some time for a park and change site along the A3052 corridor, and Woolbrook presented the best option.

But he said while construction would be phased, it would need to be spread over five years rather than more than a decade to cover the cost of the infrastructure upgrades.

The park and change system has been proposed as way to reduce traffic in Sidmouth by allowing 100 drivers to park out of town and then catch a bus or car-pool to complete their journey.

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