Homes in AONB ‘would erode Sidmouth/Sidbury green wedge’

A concept plan of the Bloor Homes site, east of Sidmouth Garden Centre. Image is taken from a report

A concept plan of the Bloor Homes site, east of Sidmouth Garden Centre. Image is taken from a report by planning consultants Turley submitted to the district council. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners have vowed to oppose any bid to build new houses in Sidmouth’s area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

The Herald revealed last week that Bloor Homes has set its sights on 16 acres of farmland, on which it hopes to build around 100 dwellings, between the garden centre and Core Hill Road.

But leaders of the Sid Vale Association (SVA) and Save our Sidmouth (SOS) have this week said they would fight to protect the countryside north of the A3052.

SVA chairman Alan Darrant warned that allowing one development in the AONB could ‘open the floodgates’ for further bids. He said: “If one is allowed, it would become much harder to defend against other applications - and that is going to erode the green wedge between Sidmouth and Sidbury.”

No planning application has been submitted, but Bloor Homes has urged planning inspector Anthony Thickett to consider its site for housing in the East Devon Local Plan.

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The firm, along with Persimmon, which owns a 13-acre plot west of Woolbrook Road, has argued that Sidmouth needs more than the 150 new homes planned over the next 16 years.

Asked if he would prefer to see housing on the Bloor or Persimmon sites, Mr Darrant said: “My first choice would be neither, because I don’t think the need has been proven for that many extra homes.

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“But if the [planning] inspector said ‘you have to have 100 more’, I would certainly say at no cost should they go north of the A3052.”

SOS chair Richard Thurlow said none of the figures used by East Devon District Council to calculate the number new houses needed for Sidmouth indicated more were needed on either sites.

He said: “If the inspector was minded to allocate more housing for the town, then there are sites within the town’s boundary that are suitable.

“In no circumstances would we support any development of housing outwards of the A3052, especially in the AONB.”

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