Last minute attempt to remove Sidford from Local Plan


- Credit: Archant

A blueprint to shape East Devon for years to come has been approved for submission – but not before an eleventh-hour request to rethink employment land allocation in the Sid Valley.

District councillors objected to Sidford’s inclusion because of flooding and road issues in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and asked for its removal.

The motion was rejected in a vote at the full council meeting, held on Wednesday, July 24, but the members intend to garner opposition in time for its review by the planning inspectorate.

Sidmouth and Sidford representative Councillor Graham Troman said: “We were standing up for Sidmouth – the battle is still on.”

Members debated details in the Local Plan, but were told they could only make minor amendments or the process would be taken back to consultation.

Cllr Troman said removing Sidford’s five hectares of employment land was only a minor amendment when viewed as a fraction of the 160 hectare allocation for East Devon.

He argued that building in the AONB was unsustainable, and that the site’s provision for retail risked threatening Sidmouth’s town centre.

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Cllr Stuart Hughes, who is also the Devon County Council highways chief, added: “What is being proposed doesn’t address the road flooding issue and this would create further dangers to the travelling public.

“There are many professional people with much knowledge living within the Sid Valley and they deserve to be listened to.”

He said at the very least the decision on Sidmouth’s inclusion should be deferred.

Following the meeting, Cllr Mike Allen said he could not support building in an AONB, and he had opposed Sidford’s inclusion when it was suggested during the final Local Plan forum in December.

It was added on a margin of just four to three against.

“I’m committed to have a full review of the site – Sidmouth Town Council and many other councillors are against it, and I support them,” added Cllr Allen.

Jackie Green, from Save Our Sidmouth, said: “We fully support Cllr Troman’s proposal because we think its inclusion was based on false employment allocation figures.

“It’s a totally unsuitable site because it’s on a flood plain, and the infrastructure is a concern.”

She said it was included because of the artificial need created by the Knowle relocation plans.

The Local Plan has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, who will take representations from councillors and the public as it is considered.