Planning inquiry opens into Sidford Business Park application

PUBLISHED: 12:44 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:05 16 July 2019

A site layout showing the fixed layout of buildings for the proposed development at the site at Two Bridges Road in Sidford.

A site layout showing the fixed layout of buildings for the proposed development at the site at Two Bridges Road in Sidford.

Archant

A three-day planning inquiry to determine whether a controversial multi-million pound business park should be built in a Sid Valley village has begun.

A three-day inquiry is taking place at East Devon District Council's headquarters at Blackdown House in Honiton. Picture: Clarissa Place.A three-day inquiry is taking place at East Devon District Council's headquarters at Blackdown House in Honiton. Picture: Clarissa Place.

Arguments have been put forward by supporters and objectors of Sidford Business Park which, if approved by presiding Planning Inspector Luke Fleming, could create hundreds of jobs for locals.

A change-of-use application for the 8,445 sqm development was rejected by East Devon District Council last year, sparking an appeal from applicants Mike and Tim Ford.

A planning inquiry has commenced at the council's Blackdown House headquarters in Honiton, which saw opening arguments from both sides put forward.

In his opening remarks, East Devon District Council barrister Hashi Mohamed said evidence shows there is pressure on the road network near the proposed business park.

He told the inquiry that the A375 has several 'pinch-points', including at Cotford Bridge and Harvest Cottage on Cotford Road and from Chapel Street north to Burnt Oak in Sidbury.

Mr Mohamed said: "It will become abundantly clear the difficulties of negotiating what are already inadequate road widths, the lack of footways, pressures from nearby bus stops, blind spots and lack of parking restrictions."

Richard Kimblin QC, counsel for the appellant OG Holdings Retirement Benefit Scheme, said the site has been marked in the Local Plan as employment land.

He said there was an 'identified local need' for the development, which he told the meeting was 'sustainable'.

Mr Kimblin said: "It has been the subject of sustainability appraisal which has been tested before an experienced examining Inspector who found exactly that - the allocation has been rigorously tested against the reasonably available alternatives and found to be sound when measured against relevant government planning polices, and to be sustainable development."

The meeting heard from Jeremy Upfield, Devon County Council's development management officer, who gave evidence as the highways and transport case officer familiar with the site.

He told the inquiry that School Street in Sidford narrows to an 'unacceptable' level for HGG movements in both directions.

He said the road also has a section where the footway narrows to an 'unacceptable' width for pedestrians to safely use.

The inquiry will hear from interested parties and members of the public on Wednesday, July 17.

John Loudoun of Say NO to Sidford Business Park steering group, resident Keith Hudson, district councillor Marianne Rixson and town councillor Jeff Turner have all indicated they wished to speak.

Evidence from the appellant will be heard tomorrow.

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