Forced sale of “ransom strip” is “key” to future - Sidmouth councillors

SIDMOUTH representatives have called for the forced sale of a privately owned piece of land they say could “unlock” the Alexandria Industrial Estate and end an interest in creating a 12-acre employment site elsewhere.

A quartet of district councillors expressed their opposition to Local Plan proposals for a huge plot between Sidford and Sidbury at a special meeting of the development management committee on Tuesday.

Members heard ward members slam current employment land proposals for the earmarked plot as a potential ‘horror’ and a ‘building blight’.

They called for the town’s existing Alexandria estate to be better utilised through improved access instead.

Councillor Stuart Hughes said: “Access off the B3176 is key to allowing the Alexandria estate to reach its full potential.

“The way forward is the compulsory purchase of the ransom strip (a small piece of land next to Bulverton Park). That is the only option and this council holds the key to unlocking this particular asset.”

Cllr Hughes said such a move would “improve the quality of life” for nearby residents.

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He suggested district council-owned Manstone workshops could be relocated to the Alexandria estate – paving the way for the purchase of the land needed for access.

Cllr Graham Troman said ‘no’ to developments in the AONB.

He added: “I wouldn’t want to leave a building blight for future generations which, when we’re all gone, will remain forever.

“I can’t see any evidence we require all of this.”

Cllr Christine Drew said in a letter that the idea of a development at Sidford ‘filled her with horror’. She added: “Do we really need a business park? Alexandria is under used and could provide more employment.”

Cllr Peter Sullivan, who sits on the development management committee, said he was opposed to the proposed employment site.

Cllr Roger Giles, a county councillor for Sibury, branded the blueprint as “wrong” and “in the wrong place”.

He said Sidford and Sidbury were “distinct” communities and such an employment site might lead to their “coalescence”.