Save our village

SIR - To East Devon District Council planning department from members of the Sidford and Sidbury communities.

We live in the Sidmouth valley, and I work for a local business that is proposing development of business land at Sidford. I and many others from the Sidford /Sidbury area are deeply concerned about the proposed development at Sidford for new business land, and, after a public meeting at Sidford hall with a resounding NO from nearly every resident from the area, that it still seems to be on the agenda!

We live and have our families within this small village and since the traffic lights have been in place at Sidford cross roads there are more often than not traffic jams at the lights. This was highlighted even more so when the road works were being carried out; this often caused massive traffic tailbacks. We think it’s unbelievable that highways are even considering this idea on road access issues alone. If the site is approved, the traffic through Sidford and Sidbury will be very damaging and dangerous to both communities.

The lorries, vans and deliveries to this site will use both Exeter and Honiton roads to reach this site where Sidford is already under traffic pressure. Sidbury’s small bridge and tiny village roads (right beside a primary school) are just not fit for purpose. Already, if a bus is at Sidbury or Sidford, bottle-neck traffic is held up. Add articulated lorries, vans and general traffic to the proposed site and it sounds like a ridiculous idea

On this point our concerns grow as it doesn’t seem to have been thrown out as a very damaging and dangerous idea.

This also fuels the duty rumours that there have been deals done behind closed doors and highlighted by a closed council meeting which took place some time ago.

It is no secret that the developer of the site is currently looking to sell their current location to a large supermarket and “has to have somewhere else to operate from” once this has happened.

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But, also, duty rumour is once the deal is done with the supermarket and new business land at Sidford they will be taking the money and running. I know for fact that they are already laying staff off.

The firm in question has already done this once with their call centre and by hiding behind the Limited Companies Act and expensive lawyers and ending up pulling the plug and getting out owing local people and employees money, and people are still out of pocket although this is not illegal and no law has been broken. It is morally wrong and underhand; if EDDC planning is getting into bed with them they may get their fingers burnt.

We do hope that this letter is taken into consideration and acted upon as it is also being forwarded to all local newspapers, councillors and MPs for the area. There’s an old but usually safe saying, if something doesn’t seem right, it usually isn’t. This whole scheme seems to smell of corruption and “bribes” for an end gain. There are other places for this site to be put. We aren’t against the growth of the community but not at the expense of small villages. Most other towns and cities put their business sites on the outskirts of their towns, not in the middle

We have always believed that the point of the planning department was there to protect people and communities from development that isn’t suitable for a location or purpose and this is one of them. And the site has huge objection from local people, yet it seems our voices are not being heard which makes us think there is more to this than is being officially told!

The developers may try to pull the wool over the committee’s eyes, but we would hope that EDDC planning department would have more foresight and not be lured into making a very wrong and damaging decision for the ratepayers and themselves?

We will be approaching the necessary officials/departments to have this brought to a public inquiry if this location is continued to be considered as a possible site.

We are not putting our names to this because of possible work and business reprisals by the people who will ultimately benefit from this cash cow. But there are a lot of us and we will have our voices heard one way or another.

We really hope that someone who reads this is brave enough to help out the small person in the street and that democracy and common sense will prevail

Please save our village.

Members of the Sidford and Sidbury communities