Home working and new town centre buildings at the top of the agenda neighbourhood plan

Sidmouth Neighbourhood Plan focuses on a number of elements. Picture: Contributed

Sidmouth Neighbourhood Plan focuses on a number of elements. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Empty buildings, previously used by businesses in the Sid Valley, will have to sit vacant for 12 months before developers are allowed to change the use, a neighbourhood plan says.

The Herald will be taking each section of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan (SVNP) and breaking down the policies and its proposed impact on the Sid Valley community ahead of a referendum on September 19.

If adopted, the SVNP will act as a blueprint for developments in the area until 2032.

A portion of the document is dedicated to 'economic resilience', with policies on new retail and commercial development (policy 16), facilitation of home working (policy 17), employment land (policy 18) and renewable energy and low carbon energy projects (policy 19).

Policy 18 focuses on employment land and states that changing the use of properties allocated for business use in the Local Plan, such as the Alexandria Road Industrial Estate, will not be approved unless the new use provides or creates employment.

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Exceptions would be made in certain circumstances, including if an occupier can not be found for vacant premises after being marketed for at least 12 months and the land is not allocated for residential development in the Local Plan.

In policy 16, the SVNP states new retail and commercial developments, including extensions and/or alterations to existing facilities, within the town centre will be supported, as long as it meets a list of criterias.

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This includes the new building not having an adverse impact on the character of the area or nearby neighbours, being accessible by a variety of types of transport and not increasing traffic on the surrounding roads.

The SVNP also outlines the district preferences for home working - it said proposals for house extensions and/or conversions of existing domestic buildings and new garden buildings for home-working will be supported as long as it meets a number of criterias.

Any renewable energy and green employment initiatives will also be supported as long as they do not cause significant nuisances to neighbours or any neighbouring amenity, adversely affect the quality and character of the landscape, nature conservation areas or the safety of those who use the countryside.

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