Move to ban new builds from being second homes in Sid Valley

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:45 18 February 2019

Sidmouth as seen from Salcombe Hill. Picture: Alex Walton Photography

Sidmouth as seen from Salcombe Hill. Picture: Alex Walton Photography

Alex Walton

Any new homes built in the Sid Valley would not be allowed to be used as a 'second home' if the area's Neighbourhood Plan is approved.

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan, which is currently out for consultation, will help shape the valley for the next 20 years.

Among the policies included in the document is one that means any new open market housing, excluding replacement dwellings, can only be used as a ‘principal residence’.

Cllr Bruce De Saram, East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) neighbourhood planning lead, told the council’s cabinet, on Wednesday (February 6), that it would be first plan for East Devon that included the principal residence restriction.

According to the plan, approximately eight per cent of the homes in the plan area are either second homes or are used for holiday lets.

It states: “This considered approach recognises the importance of welcoming new people to the area and balancing housing needs and there is also anecdotal evidence that local prices are inflated by the demand for owning a second home thereby making the accommodation less affordable for local residents.”

The Sid Valley area, with a total population of 15,500, includes Sidmouth, Sidbury, Sidford and Salcombe Regis.

The Herald previously reported the findings of a Freedom of Information request, in December 2017, which revealed Sidmouth was the second home capital of East Devon. At the time there were 7,885 homes in Sidmouth. This is half the size of Exmouth which had 16,987. Despite this Sidmouth had 471 second homes while Exmouth had 442.

The cabinet unanimously decided to endorse the plan, but Cllr Mike Allen raised concern about the sheer number of contraventions included.

Mark Williams, the council’s chief executive, said that they were only a consultee and that there was a risk that an inspector could have a difficulty in declaring the plan sound.

A consultation on the plan will run until Friday, March 8, before it goes to an independent examiner, who will inspect the plan against a series of ‘basic conditions’ that the plan must meet. If the examiner agrees that the plan meets the basic conditions it will proceed to a local referendum.

The plan also concentrates on the regeneration of the Port Royal and calls for the protection of open spaces such as parks, the Byes, the Knowle, Connaught Gardens and the beach.

There will be also be a presumption against any developments built within the area’s ‘Green Wedges’.

As well as this the neighbourhood plan also supports a park-and-ride scheme on the outskirts to accommodate more visitors to the town, without bringing additional traffic and congestion to the town centre.

Other policies in the plan include the development of a safe pedestrian/cycle crossing over the A3052 between the Bowd and Woolbrook Junction to link with the planned Otter Trail and the development of a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists from Sidbury to Sidford, which will cross the tiger crossing in Sidford and link with the Byes.

Visit eastdevon.gov.uk for more information on the local plan.

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