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Sid Valley businesses and groups respond to Neighbourhood Plan

PUBLISHED: 16:30 04 April 2017

A view of the eastern end of the town. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7858-10-09SH

A view of the eastern end of the town. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7858-10-09SH

Archant

Sidmouth’s eastern end is run down and needs to be regenerated, but any development in the town needs to be sensitive and appropriate to the environment.

Sidmouth’s eastern end is run down and needs to be regenerated, but any development in the town needs to be sensitive and appropriate to the environment.

This view was among the 104 responses from businesses and special interest groups that were surveyed by the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.

It follows a residents’ questionnaire and a report on the views of children and young people will be published shortly.

Steering group chairman Dee Hounsom said: “The objective of this questionnaire was to try to understand the concerns and views of people who own, run and manage businesses and groups in the area.

“Clearly, there is a perceived need to ensure that development in the community is carefully balanced to meet the requirements of young people, families and older people if we are to ensure a vibrant sustainable economy, the right balance of housing and foster the identity of the Sid Valley so that it can meet the needs of all.

“By publishing the findings, we are seeking to share the results with the residents of the Sid Valley.”

The questionnaire gave respondents free rein to put forward novel ideas, such as generating electricity from the River Sid, a cap on the number of cafes and charity shops, or a hub to nurture start-up businesses, but many reported similar concerns. Among the key findings were:

■ Any development and its appearance needs to be sensitive to the heritage and identity of the particular area in which it is situated;

■ Encouraging an eclectic, discerning retail environment with an emphasis on quality which will maintain and increase footfall is important;

■ Most respondents felt that the eastern part of the town needs regeneration, both to enhance the run down appearance of the area and also to provide enhanced facilities for cultural, commercial and sporting activities;

■ Protecting and preserving the built and natural landscape whilst permitting needed sensitive and appropriate development must include tackling cliff and coastal erosion.

Respondents raised concerns about the lack of parking, with many supporting affordable or free, a multi-storey car park or a park and ride interchange.

Some said Port Royal – earmarked for redevelopment – could be maximised as a community hub, with space for performances and events, while continuing to support sea-based sports and leisure activities.

The steering group hopes to hold a referendum to finalise the Neighbourhood Plan by the end of the year.

Its full reports can be found at sidmouth.gov.uk.

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