Sidford business park: call to 'fight the details'

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 September 2016

An image from proposals for the business park.

An image from proposals for the business park.

Archant

A raft of fresh objections have been lodged by residents and civic leaders against plans for a 9.3-acre business park - with warnings a single building could 'dwarf everything' in the Sid Valley.

The proposed site viewed from Trow HillThe proposed site viewed from Trow Hill

Town councillors were told they have to ‘fight the details’ as they debated Fords of Sidmouth’s amended plans for the site between Sidford and Sidbury.

Members will urge district chiefs to impose restrictions on the scale of the buildings and call for a cycle path linking Sidbury and Sidford to be built before any other construction work goes ahead.

Planning committee chairman Cllr Ian Barlow told Wednesday’s packed meeting in Sidford: “I’m not defeatist – I’m a realist. We’ve fought this for years and years and years but now it’s in the Local Plan. Now we need to fight the details. If we have to have it, we don’t want buildings more than seven metres high, and we don’t want any bigger than 500 squares metres – we don’t need a huge distribution centre.”

He urged objectors to get their partners and children to write in, too, and send letters to East Devon District Council (EDDC), Fords and landowner Sir John Cave. There are already 153 objections online.

The town council originally opposed the application due to the impact on roads, flooding and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the lack of demand for the 300 jobs forecast to be created by the business park.

Fords’ amendments include relocating the proposed cycle path further from the A375, and redesigning the flood attenuation ponds to better fit in the environment. It also submitted ‘design codes’ – revealing that buildings would have a maximum height of 15 metres, and no one building would cover more than a quarter of the 5.8-acre southern field or the 3.5-acre northern site.

Critics at Wednesday’s meeting said such a building would ‘dwarf everything’ in the Sid Valley.

Cllr Michael Earthey said: “I said before, it will be a carbuncle on the landscape. Now we know the scale of it.”

Resident Ian Scott, who worked as an architect for 30 years, suggested hope was not lost. He said: “The Department for Transport can overrule the fact it’s in the Local Plan.

“I don’t think we should give up and say it’s inevitable.”

Town clerk Christopher Holland said if councillors did not object to specific details at this stage, the developer was being handed a ‘blank sheet’.

“This is your chance to put some red lines down on what you wish to see and what you wish not to see,” he added.

Members agreed to write to EDDC saying, if the business park does go ahead, the following conditions should be imposed:

● The maximum ridge height of the properties should be seven metres and the eaves should be no higher than five metres. There should also be no flat roofs.

● The cycle track should be built before any development goes ahead.

● The bat habitat should not be disturbed; specifically an ‘ancient’ hedgerow in Laundry Lane.

● Light and noise pollution should be restricted.

● There should be no retail under any circumstances on the site.

● A new traffic management report should be drawn up, and a traffic assessment will be requested.

● No one building should be more than 500 square metres in area.

For advice on commenting on the application, contact the town council on 01395 512424.

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