Calls for removal of Sidford business park site in Local Plan are ‘unrealistic’, says Highways boss

PUBLISHED: 07:31 19 November 2018

Stuart Hughes. Ref shs 22 18TI 4996. Picture: Terry Ife

Stuart Hughes. Ref shs 22 18TI 4996. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

Calls to removed the Sidford business park site from the Local Plan are ‘unrealistic’ and if successful would only give people ‘false hope’.

Those are the words used by highways chief, county councillor Stuart Hughes. But, the councillor did agree that the site should have never been included in the Local Plan in the first place.

It all follows on from East Devon District Council’s rejection of controversial plans for a multi-million pound business park at the Two Bridges site.

Cllr Hughes has now shared his views about the issue following a story in last week’s Herald, featuring Cllr Marianne Rixson’s calls for authorities to look at removing the Two Bridges site from the Local Plan.

If an appeal was lodged:

Cllr Hughes said: “If the decision is appealed by the applicant then it will be considered by a planning inspector.

“It would however also allow representations to be made to the inspector on other elements such as flooding, AONB etc.”

Calls to change the Local Plan:

“Suggesting the land at Sidford should be taken out of the Local Plan is unrealistic, given the plan is already in place.

“A Local Plan inspector is not going to review a decision for an already ‘made plan’ that has been in effect for some time.

“By the time any refresh of the East Devon Local Plan is completed this matter will have most likely been decided and there should not be any false hope or expectation put forward that this will be any different.

“The simple truth is that the land allocation at Sidford should never have been included in the Local Plan.

“It came in as a late addition without full consideration of its suitability, particularly as other far more appropriate sites which were ‘brownfield’ should have been considered and were put forward at the early stages of the process of making the Local Plan.

“My personal suggested site would have been adjacent to the Garden Centre on the A3052.”

Cllr Hughes said former EDDC councillor Graham Troman and he consistently and repeatedly argued for the Sidford site to be excluded from the East Devon Local Plan and voted for its exclusion from the Local Plan when could.

He added: “We actually succeeded in having it removed by the district council only to find that the inspector wouldn’t agree to its removal. The Highway authority had no objection to the original allocation of the site. It was the introduction of the B8 business use – storage or distribution and the inevitable accompanying lorries that were a cause of concern.”

Weight restrictions on roads:

“A weight restriction as suggested on the A375 would need to be looked at very carefully to understand the impact on Sidmouth’s businesses and economy.

“We would also need to look at whether lorries might then transfer to other less suitable routes to access the town from the A30.”

Plans were refused on Highway grounds:

“Whilst it was interesting in putting some detail to the controversial proposals for a Business Park at Sidford, it is largely historical and in planning terms much of it is not now relevant.

“I can fully understand why Clr Rixson, who lives immediately next to the site, would want to question all aspects of how we actually came to this position and the likely impacts on her and her neighbours, as well as those living close by and on the already busy roads that would be used to access the site.

“It is important to note that the current application, refused by EDDC as the Local Planning Authority was purely on the grounds that the land usage designation described as ‘B8’ is not compatible with the designation of the land in the Local Plan and Highways didn’t support the B8 element of the planning application as it would lead to further HGV movements through Sidbury and along School Street Sidford.”

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