Misplaced plan


- Credit: Archant

In respect to the Sidmouth section of the Local Plan there is a clear need for a new entrance to the Alexandria industrial estate.

It is the potential deal with a major supermarket to purchase the Alexandria site which is underwriting the proposed industrial development in the Sidford AONB and is the generator of the EDDC’s redistribution of employment land in its ambition to relocate. Should this be allowed to proceed it will have a considerable impact on the economic vitality of the town centre and the rain run-off will contribute to flooding downstream at Port Royal. The Bulverton Road access to the industrial estate is therefore the lynchpin to the whole employment land solution in the resort.

The Alexandria estate has operated under capacity for many years, but with some modest reconfiguring such as an improved access it is capable of accommodating much more employment space. During the Local Plan discussions we were informed by the Ford’s agent that the access road was problematic because it would cost £1m to install and that the ransom strip was owned by 13 different parties. It appears however that it wasn’t a problem for Morrisons who included just such an entrance location in their plans for their store and filling station. Can we rely on an agent’s representations or do we need an independent assessment?

Local professionals without a vested interest estimate the cost for a simple T-junction to be more like £300k and this could be financed by building a series of business units along the strip. The number of owners is irrelevant as we are only interested in one particular section of the ransom strip. According to local knowledge nearly all this section of land belongs to a director and former co-director of the adjacent construction company. It is clearly a case of where there is a will to talk there is a way!

Consequently, a cost-benefit analysis of whether the access is viable would have to be compared with the cost to Sidmouth of further large scale out-of-town retail and commercial development. Currently Sidmouth has a well distributed and sustainable live-work balance but the proposed single zone of five hectares lacks evidence and has poor transport connectivity. On the other hand, the more sensible calculations by consultants Roger Tyms of one hectare of employment land is achievable by refiguring the Alexandria estate and introducing mixed developments in Eastern Town and on brown field sites elsewhere.

Graham Cooper

Via email