AONB digger protest at Sidmouth EDDC offices

Sid Vale Association to join placard-waving protestors

BRITAIN’S oldest civic society, the Sid Vale Association based in Sidmouth, is seeking more members to fight against the threat of development in the AONB.

Its chairman, the Reverend Handel Bennett, plans to join placard-waving protesters and a five tonne digger at The Knowle offices of East Devon District Council, at 10.30am next Tuesday, November 23, to voice concerns over its Local Development Framework on future growth of the district over the next two decades.

Mr Bennett said: “Never before has our beautiful valley been under such a threat from proposed development in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The precedent set by EDDC for building 103 houses in the AONB, (at Woolbrook), will now be used to build more housing estates in the rest of the AONB that surrounds the town.”

He said Sidmouth’s landscape was its finest asset, bringing in visitors year after year and boosting its economy.

“This asset is threatened, and will be lost forever, if we do not register with the EDDC Local District Framework planners, our strong objections to destroying the only asset we have. Readers can register their objections by e-mailing by November 29.

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He said SVA worked with the National Trust and other organisations and had been interested in maintaining the landscape in the Sid Valley since 1846.

“We continue to have great concern about the possibility of development of housing estates within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) around Sidmouth. “East Devon District Council has recently given permission to Persimmon Development to build a housing estate on AONB land on Woolbrook Road.

“We welcome new members at all times, but especially at this difficult time when individual voices should come together to make our case loud and clear.”

Communities Before Developers (CBD) is urging everyone concerned about EDDC’s Local Development Framework, to draft their responses to the LDF and bring it on the march to the council offices.

The three month public consultation on the council’s Local Development Core Strategy, which sets out housing and other related proposals, ends on Monday, November 30.

Campaigners claim, if approved, it would transform East Devon from a mainly rural district into a semi-urban one.

Councillor Roger Giles, district councilor for Ottery St Mary, said many councils had reduced their housing numbers since Government said it would abolish centrally dictated housing numbers in the Regional Spatial Strategy.

“EDDC however, has increased its housing numbers,” he said. “The new Government said local people should be able to influence how they wish their communities to develop.

“EDDC should listen to that message.”

Councillor Claire Wright, West Hill councillor on Ottery Town Council, said: “EDDC’s plans are short-sighted and wrong because they would take away the very reason people move here.”

*Memberships forms to join SVA are at Sidmouth Library until the end of November, or available by calling (01395) 519275 or at