New Sidmouth vets’ bid turned down

‘No’ to plans despite ‘animals are being treated in the road’ claim

A BID to build an out-of-town veterinary practice at Sidmouth Garden Centre has been turned down for a second time.

Proposals were rejected, despite support from ward representatives who claimed animals ‘are being treated in the road’ at Sidmouth’s current, ‘unsustainable’, town-centre facility.

Garden centre owner, Ian Barlow ,altered original plans for a single storey premises on the advice of planning officers – only to see them recommend revised blueprints for refusal.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) Development Management Committee members ruled on Tuesday the building, which would have seen an independent business utilise the premises, would be detrimental to the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Ward member Councillor Christine Drew supported plans and said there was a need for an out-of-town facility – especially for farmers.

Of Sidmouth’s current town centre veterinary practice, she said: “There’s no pavement or parking. I see farmers with sheep on the back of their trucks - the vets have to come out and treat them in the road. It’s not sustainable there at all.”

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“I can’t think of a better place for a vets’ than this,” added ward member Cllr Stuart Hughes.

“It’s out of town with plenty of car parking. It’s not going to have a detrimental impact on the AONB at all.

“I don’t think sheep, pigs and sometimes calves, being unloaded in Water Lane is in keeping with the urban area of Sidmouth.”

Committee member Cllr Peter Sullivan told colleagues: “We’ve got 250 houses allowed to be built in the AONB - but planning officers are saying no to a small veterinary surgery, which is confusing.”

Cllr David Key added: “The AONB is there for us to enjoy, its not necessarily there forever and a day not to be built on. There’s 250 houses being built opposite, what bigger eyesore is there than that.”

However, Cllr Geoff Chamberlain said principle concerns for the AONB, which saw original plans rejected in December, still remained.

Cllr Phil Twiss added: “The A3052 is the natural boundary and I see no overriding circumstances to change that. You have to draw the line at some point.”

Cllr Helen Parr held concerns over a ‘second business’ at the garden centre site and said: “It seems to me Sidmouth has to decide in principle, do they want a new industrial area there? I’m not sure this is the only place for a veterinary practice.”

Members voted seven to six to refuse planning permission. A motion to approve plans was earlier defeated by two votes.