Development claim for Sidmouth is slammed by EDA

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) assertion that countryside at Two Bridges Road, Sidford, will still be developed has been slammed as ‘inappropriate’.

The Herald reported earlier last month how, despite an application for a 9.3-acre business park being refused, the authority said it was ‘still committed’ to seeing the site used for employment purposes. It is earmarked for such use in the council’s Local Plan.

However, Councillor Marianne Rixson, chairman of the East Devon Alliance (EDA), said this was not necessarily the case.

She labelled the authority’s statement as ‘inappropriate’, as the land in question did not belong to the council, and said the outcome of any future planning applications should not be predetermined.

Cllr Rixson added that the Local Plan was ‘not set in stone’ and could be adapted to ‘material changes’, such as the dramatic reassessment of highways problems. She said the county council’s highways report on the business park application had highlighted problems with narrow roads, rat-runs, and frequent traffic chaos in the area - all of which would have to be reconsidered if a new application was put forward.

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Cllr Rixson said EDDC planning chiefs had refused the scheme on the grounds the development would cause unacceptable harm to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“Decisions on planning applications are made by EDDC’s development management committee, which must judge individual planning applications on planning matters, like whether an application fitted with EDDC’s strategy and policy on things like in-commuting. The Local Plan is only one aspect,” said Cllr Rixson.

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She added that a report by EDDC’s top planning officer corroborated her point.

“It makes a clear distinction between a Local Plan allocation and planning permission. EDDC’s statement apparently confuses the two things,” she said.

Respondoing to Cllr Rixson’s points, Cllr Phil Twiss, EDDC’s corporate services portfolio holder, said: “The Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) set the policy basis against which planning applications in East Devon must be determined. If a planning application is submitted for the Sidford employment site that complies with the Local Plan and the NPPF, then there can be no sound planning basis for refusal.

“The objections to the recent application relate to points of detail. The principle issues with the site were all fully considered and found to be acceptable by the independent Local Plan inspector when the site was allocated.

“The detailed concerns that led to the application being refused can all be overcome. Whether the developers choose to address these concerns is, however, entirely up to them.”

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