New vets backed in Sidmouth AONB


- Credit: Archant

AN out-of-town veterinary practice will be built ‘within a year’ after plans were narrowly given the go-ahead.

Sidmouth Garden Centre owner Ian Barlow is now keen to proceed with the proposals for a piece of land next to his business – in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – after seeing the bid approved at his third attempt.

East Devon District Council development management committee members went against their own officer’s recommendations to refuse the scheme – granting it permission by seven votes to six.

The new vets was lauded by some members as a positive move brought by a local businessman, which is addressing the need for an out-of-town vets and bringing jobs to the area. But others feared that allowing building in the AONB would be irreversible and lead to ‘creeping development’.

Committee chairman Councillor Helen Parr was among those who objected.

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She said: “We must be extremely careful – this is the setting of Sidmouth. I think the reasons for refusal are absolutely right.”

Ward member Councillor Graham Troman said he had previously supported the housing estates at Woolbrook, but development should stop at the A3052.

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Councillor Mike Howe added: “It’s pushing back the boundary of the AONB – we have to draw a line.”

Members heard that Fords of Sidmouth, another business with eyes on developing in the AONB, said the application clashed with the emerging Local Plan and national planning recommendations – and they would consider a judicial review if it went ahead.

Outline plans described how the surgery would be dug into the hill in a field and topped with sedum to make it less visible in its surroundings.

Cllr John Dyson, speaking on behalf of Sidmouth Town Council, said: “We accept that it is in an AONB – as is Waitrose – but we think it is better than the land at Sidford.”

Committee member Cllr Peter Sullivan said the new site is concealed by housing estates previously built in the AONB.

He said the proposed building would improve business for the vets by enabling them to hire more staff and treat larger animals.

Mr Barlow described the decision as ‘wonderful’ and said: “You always have a great belief in common sense seeing through. We’ll be firming up now with vets to make sure they want to come and will be putting in a full planning application imminently. It will be up within a year.”

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