Paving paradise

SIR - Unless age has taken its toll on my memory, I recall that Sidmouth was, 50 years ago, a serene town, a place of beauty.

Set in its own wonderful natural landscape it became a jewel and, to those who loved it, something very different from anywhere else on earth.

Unchanged through the years, Sidmouth continued to attract visitors who appreciated it much as its inhabitants did and everyone was happy. Unchanged is, I think, the operative word.

So, what went wrong?

The growth of development over the past 25 years in particular has slowly but surely eaten away at its character and that growth has accelerated beyond belief over the past 10 years such that, to many old-timers, Sidmouth has already lost its appeal.

Green fields, petrol stations, care homes and hotels have given way to flats and housing estates, the most recent at Woolbrook and Stowford being each the size of small towns.

All this without any noticeable change to the infrastructure (roads, schools, car parking and medical services) to cope with it (apart from perhaps sewage).

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Despite all of this, there are still a large number of well-meaning people here who will fight to preserve what is left of the Sid Valley but, I regret, it will all be to no avail.

They will not be able to compete with the council who, in turn, will have the support of the government, and the Knowle will be the next beauty spot to fall.

Money is now the most important thing in the world. Most people in Sidmouth might not like that comment but very few would disagree.

The news is full of it. Television quiz programmes are made of it. People are fascinated by it and desperate for it and law firms thrive on it. There is no such thing as enough.

What is the Knowle development site worth? More in terms of money than anything else.

I suppose we could have a drive-through McDonalds on The Ham and an amusement arcade on Bedford Lawn car park. That should finish it off nicely.

Nostalgia? Maybe, but the words to ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ keep ringing in my ears.

A caring Simouth resident