Resounding no for Sidford business park proposal

More than 150 people attended a planning meeting discussing proposals for a new business park at Sid

More than 150 people attended a planning meeting discussing proposals for a new business park at Sidford. - Credit: Archant

Residents and representatives blasted fresh plans for a business park between Sidford and Sidbury this week.

The reduced outline application failed to win over civic leaders and members of the public as it was unanimously opposed by Sidmouth Town Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

Access, inadequate roads and flooding risk were among the reasons.

More than 150 residents, as well as town, district and county council representatives packed into Sidford Social Hall.

A change of use is being sought for the agricultural site, in Two Bridges Road, to provide 8,445sqm of employment floorspace.

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District councillor Marianne Rixson said there was ‘zero requirement’ for the development and that the A375 was not wide enough to cope with traffic. She claimed the ‘only beneficiaries’ from the scheme would be the applicants, not ‘the people of the Sid Valley, nor the local economy’.

“It’s all about greed, not need,” added Cllr Rixson.

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John Loudoun, of Sidbury, said it was ‘laudable’ for the applicants to promote alternative transport to the site, but the details were vague.

He added: “This is the wrong development in the wrong place. I support the need for local infrastructure - but not there. It will not be good for Sidford and I can assure you it will not be good for Sidbury.”

David Addis backed the application and said: “The Sid Valley needs to have a future supporting our families and the families that come after us. It should not just be a place for retired people or a holiday destination - we need a diverse economy.”

Joseph Marchant, agent for the applicant, said concerns from the previous proposals, submitted in 2016, had been listened to, adding: “It is quite substantially different, there is a huge reduction in volume. It represents 37 per cent of what was previously submitted. The volume of buildings would provide for 250 jobs and that is important in terms of providing the need identified in your allocated Local Plan as a district.”

Councillor Ian McKenzie-Edwards, who represents Sidford, said: “We know how busy that road gets. Putting this employment site where it is projected is going to exacerbate traffic. It’s going to lower the quality of life. The village of Sidbury; the traffic there is horrendous sometimes.”

Cllr Ian Barlow recommended that the council did not support the plans over the same concerns expressed about the 2016 application.

He said: “It is in the Local Plan, we know it is, and we fought to keep it out. Mistakes were made and we have seen it already. The Local Plan is a massive document and no council, however good or bad, can get it all right. If it is wrong, change it and have the guts to admit the mistake was made. It is a stupid place to put it. It’s expensive to build, it’s not required, certainly not the size of it - there has been no demand proved.”

A public meeting over the plans is due to be held in Sidford Social Hall on Tuesday, at 6.30pm.

The fate of the application will be decided by the district council.

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