Campaigners call public meeting over Sidford business park plan

Cathy Debenham with residents protesting about the business park plans. Ref shs 36-16TI 7248. Pictur

Cathy Debenham with residents protesting about the business park plans. Ref shs 36-16TI 7248. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A dozen residents have called a public meeting urging others to ‘say no’ to controversial plans for a 9.3-acre business park at Sidford.

The event will give information on Fords of Sidmouth’s proposals – and what opponents can do to ‘stop traffic chaos, flood risk and the impact on our beautiful valley’.

It is being organised with the East Devon Alliance and will hear from the likes of district councillor Marianne Rixson and Sid Vale Association chairman Richard Thurlow, who have long spoken out against the development.

Sidbury resident Cathy Debenham, who will chair the meeting, said: “I am very angry that such an inappropriate development is being put forward in such an unsuitable place.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone locally who thinks it’s a good thing. I have met many who share my anger, and others who are strongly against it, but resigned that it is a foregone conclusion.

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“With this meeting, we hope to persuade people that there’s lots we can do to oppose it and that it’s worth getting involved.”

The site, between Sidford and Sidbury, has been allocated as employment land in the East Devon Local Plan. Fords of Sidmouth said the location is the only option and its multi-million-pound development would deliver 300 jobs.

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The firm revealed its plans in May, but recently submitted new documents to provide ‘additional reassurance’ – triggering a second consultation. It will run until next Friday (September 16).

Mrs Debenham said the development would ‘desecrate’ the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and worsen roads already prone to gridlock.

She added: “With very low unemployment here, the 300 jobs expected to be created by the business park will lead to more inward commuting, and if – as proposed in the application – a distribution centre were to be based there, it would result in a large increase of inappropriate vehicles.

“The road through Sidbury, which doesn’t have pavements in many places, is dangerous enough for pedestrians and cyclists at the moment.

“If the business park went ahead, it would be horrendous.”

The meeting at Sidford Social Hall on Monday (Sept 12) opens at 6.30pm for refreshments for a 7.30pm start.

For more information, call Mrs Debenham on 01395 597812.

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