Developers should contribute to Sidmouth’s industrial land

Loss of industrial units should be replaced say Sidmouth’s town planners

DEVELOPERS of a former builder’s yard and foundry in Sidmouth should agree to make a contribution towards alternative industrial units in the town.

Town planners agreed on Wednesday to ask for this planning condition to be included in any planning consent granted to Blue Cedar Homes, which wants to build 12 homes for the over 55s at Parson’s Yard.

They are not happy about plans to make it a gated development, describing Sidmouth as “one of the safest places in the world.”

While supporting the application, which they describe as “overall a pleasing development of low density houses”, councillors were concerned at the loss of industrial units near the town and also insist the old prison wall is retained.

Although not at the meeting, the council’s vice-chairman, Councillor Stuart Hughes, expressed his concerns at the potential loss of work units to the committee.

“I maintain that we should protect industrial areas and that is an industrial site,” he told the Sidmouth Herald.

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“I raised this as part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) when we went to meetings on that.

“We should be doing everything we can to maintain and secure these industrial areas unless the developer can find us other land to provide industry and opportunities for people to work.”

His views were echoed by other members of the planning committee, who heard eight letters of objection to the proposal.

Residents fought to make a footpath a public right of way across the site and are concerned developers want to modify its path.

Councillors agreed any modifications should be minor and the path should retain its same full status as a public right of way.

Councillor Tony Reed was against gating the path and said: “No way can it be tolerated. The path has to be free access at all times.”

Some expressed concern at the height of flats three and four on the plans, but disagreed with residents that there would be problems with illegal parking in Mill Street as 15 parking spaces were shown on the plans.

“Because the buildings there before were high [old almshouses] it doesn’t mean to say it is right. We may as well get it right the second time around,” said Councillor Graham Liverton. “That building was very oppressive and dominant.”

“This is a very comprehensive and far-reaching development and there are lots of concerns about it,” said Councillor Simon Pollentine, who said he found the idea of a gated development devisive.

He was surprised developers had canvassed “potential occupants” of the homes rather than check with the police about the safety of Sidmouth.

“It is not filled with gangs of lads on every corner,” he said, while Councillor Peter Sullivan added: “Gated communities were brought out for major cities to make people feel safe. This is one of the safest places in the world, why do we need gated communities within the town?”