Opinion - Retired architect: 'There's viable alternatives for Sidmouth business park'
PUBLISHED: 06:24 18 October 2016
Council's stance ignores huge objections to controversial plan, says reader in letter
Re Employment land proposals for Two Bridges Road, Sidford.
Your front page in the Herald of September 30 and the statement from East Devon District Council (EDDC), that it is still committed to seeing this site in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) used for employment purposes, speaks volumes about the attitude of those concerned.
To me, the authority is showing contempt for the proposed destruction of AONB, grade two agricultural land, the insurmountable traffic bottle-neck problems, severe flood risk and numerous environmental damage aspects, and totally ignoring a 1,100-signature petition against the proposals and 384 written objections to the latest application.
The grounds on which the latest application was rejected ‘in its present form’ would suggest to any intelligent person that the site is unsuitable for development in any form. In my opinion, and that of many others, the council’s decision at the last minute before the EDDC Local Plan was due to be approved by the planning inspector was a political ploy in the full knowledge that, by not providing a viable alternative site location, the planning inspector would reinstate the site to comply with the requirement to make provision for future employment within the designated plan area.
Going forward, I would strongly recommend that the Save Our Sidmouth group or the Say No to the Business Park group set up crowdfunding to pay for professional advice, both legal and planning consultancy, to have this site replace in the approved EDDC Local Plan with a viable alternative.
Several years ago, a group of us produced a plan proposing the construction of a traffic light controlled T-junction into the existing Alexandria Industrial Estate from the Bulverton Road. This proposal would have allowed the development of three sensitively designed two-storey office units, satisfying the B1 requirements, on the old railway track area fronting onto the Bulverton Road, but serviced from the Alexandria Industrial Estate Site side. Whilst this land does not currently form part of the industrial site, the vastly increased value of the land should be an incentive for the current owner to participate in the proposal, including selling the land for the access road. This would see the existing industrial estate having more than adequate space to expand or redevelop and still leave sufficient area for any additional employment requirements. So there is a viable alternative to the proposed site at Two Bridges Road.
I reiterate that I believe that it is possible to have the EDDC Local Plan amended, provided that a viable alternative is proposed. This would ‘scupper’ once and for all the authority’s desire and determination to try to see the destruction of this AONB, to the permanent detriment of the Sid Valley, by allowing this totally unnecessary development.
Now is the time to act, not when it is too late.
Ian Maxwell Scott (retired architect)
Sidvale Close, Sidford