Keep it special

I am absolutely staggered at the proposals of East Devon District Council, specifically on the subject of future housing and industrial development in and around Sidmouth.

With the massive house-building exercise currently being undertaken at Cranbrook and near St Bridgets in Exeter, I feel that any significant building programme within Sidmouth is not yet proven and totally premature.

Moreover, it was with disbelief that I saw the proposal that the local authority considered building on our precious parkland and replacing the existing council office with housing.

The Knowle parkland is a total unit, and the moment one allows any new building within its boundary would destroy the whole character of the grounds.

As for the matter of the council office not being considered fit for purpose, the major part which houses 60 per cent of the workforce is of comparatively recent build, with the remainder surely being capable of being economically adapted.

We have lost too many precious structures over the years, the most recent being the Fortfield Hotel, that we cannot afford to lose more.

We live too much in a throw-away society. Viewed from the surrounding hills, the Knowle council office and parkland constitute a magnificent sight. Must we really pack every space within our towns with new build?

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As for the commercial development, bearing in mind the significant industrial units that have sprung up between Sidmouth and Exeter over the years, where is the justification to build more, and in doing so create an eyesore north of Sidford? (And, of course, there is the Business and Science Park near Cranbrook). Our towns are in great danger of losing their individual character with one town centre looking much like another. Do we have to follow suit? Let us treasure our parks. We cannot allow one to be vacated for redevelopment purposes, and simply go out and find a replacement park and arboretum elsewhere.

They do not grow on trees. Remember that Sidmouth has just established the world’s first civic arboretum.

It is abundantly clear from recent meetings that the local residents are very unhappy with the proposals of EDDC, finding the needs unproven.

The big problem is this: is anybody listening out there? Or do I go and talk to the trees? Do the decision makers have the right to totally ignore us?

Sidmouth is special, and rightly so. Let us keep it that way.

Peter Atkinson

Knowle Drive, Sidmouth