Sidford Business Park: Opposition speak out against 'vanity project' proposal at inquiry

PUBLISHED: 16:52 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 07:32 18 July 2019

A three-day inquiry is taking place at East Devon District Council's headquarters at Blackdown House in Honiton. Picture: Clarissa Place.

A three-day inquiry is taking place at East Devon District Council's headquarters at Blackdown House in Honiton. Picture: Clarissa Place.

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A multi-million pound business park has been branded as a 'vanity project' by opposition of the proposed scheme.

People fighting against Sidford Business Park spoke at the second day of the inquiry, held at Blackdown House in Honiton, which will decide the development's fate.

Presiding inspector Luke Fleming heard concerns about flooding, heritage assets, pollution and traffic.

The plans have faced much opposition, with 255 written submissions of objection, several public meetings, a demonstration and a petition against the plans signed by 1,400 residents.

Video footage taken over the past two years illustrating current traffic problems along the A375 in Sidbury and Sidford was viewed by the inspector.

John Loudoun, on behalf of residents' campaign group Say NO to Sidford Business Park, labelled the plan as a 'vanity project' and said that residents believed 'categorically' the site was in the wrong place.

Mr Loudoun said: "Its not just artic lorries, it's the narrowness of the road to take the traffic we have now.

"We believe that the evidence to not uphold this appeal even solely on highways-related matters is compelling."

Resident Keith Hudson, who has lived in the Sid Valley for seven decades, questioned what additional industries the park would create and the visual effect it would have on the area.

Mr Hudson told the inquiry the developer's promise that there would be little or no effect on the A375 would only be true if the work was carried out by 'fairies riding unicorns'.

He said: "I don't see how you're not going to impact on the roads. I have witnessed time and time again the blockages through the road."

Mr Hudson said the developer's pledge was 'brave words' and said the site was the wrong place for an employment site.

District councillor Marianne Rixson raised concerns about residents' health and said there is no clear data proving the need for such a site.

Councillor Jeff Turner, vice-chair of the Sidmouth Town Council's planning committee, said a policy in the town's emerging Neighbourhood Plan stated the importance of retaining Sidbury's 'distinctive' village setting.

Cllr Stuart Hughes told the inspector the highway by the site had been upgraded to an A-road following a request from the town's chamber of commerce.

He said Devon County Council had looked at the site in 2009 as a possible recycling centre but following a consultation and traffic concerns, did not progress with the site.

The closing arguments for and against the site will be heard on July 18.

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