Groups slam employment land allocation in Local Plan

PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 June 2012

Archant

A string of groups in Sidmouth have hit out at the allocation of employment land for Sidmouth in the Local Plan, calling the process a 'shambles' and a 'disaster'.

The latest round of consultation on East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) blueprint for the region’s future has drawn condemnation from people in the town.

Residents are angry an allocation of five hectares of land for ‘employment’ use has remained despite continued objections.

The submission from Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce said it had identified ‘serious flaws’ in EDDC’s calculations, something the council has denied.

It said had the ‘correct’ numbers been used, the employment land allocation across the district would have about 20 hectares less, and Sidmouth would have only had one hectare rather than five.

The chamber wants EDDC to revisit employment land in the Local Plan, adding: “We conclude that the process by which employment land allocation in Sidmouth has emerged is very seriously unsound, a shambles in fact.”

Sidmouth Town Council also blasted the proposed development at Sidford, calling it ‘totally inadequate for employment’, due to its ‘large visual impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

Its response said while it recognised the need for some employment land in the town, the emphasis should be on maximising the use of existing sites within the built up area boundary.

Robert Crick, the former chair of Vision Group for Sidmouth and prominent campaigner, said the town faces a ‘bleak future’ with the current local plan.

In his response he writes: “The Draft Local Plan, particularly in relation to Sidmouth, is demonstrably a disaster.”

He said work must now be done to create a new plan, adding: “If not, Sidmouth faces a future as bleak as that of the many British coastal towns that have been blighted by regeneration and development over the past few decades.”

The current comments will be viewed by EDDC before any amendments are put to full council on July 25, ahead of a completed plan submitted to the Secretary of State in late 2012.

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