Multi-million pound Sidford Business Park plans granted on appeal in landmark ruling

Business park to be built at Sidford, Picture: Daniel Wilkins and East Devon District Council.

Business park to be built at Sidford, Picture: Daniel Wilkins and East Devon District Council. - Credit: Archant

A huge multimillion-pound business park which will change the face of the Sid Valley for years to come has been granted permission on appeal, leaving opponents of the development reeling.

The decision to grant permission for the 8,445 sqm development at Two Bridges in Sidford has come as a blow to campaigners.

At a three-day planning inquiry last month, planning inspector Luke Fleming heard that the A375 road between Sidford and Sidbury was beset with traffic issues, including near misses between lorries.

However, in his decision notice published on Tuesday, Mr Fleming said there were 'significant benefits' which outweigh the effects and inconvenience of the increase in HGV traffic in the parishes.

Mr Fleming wrote: "The proposed development would help meet the significant employment needs of the area.

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"The drainage and flood attenuation measures would reduce the risk of surface water flooding elsewhere. The proposal would also contribute towards a section of the Sidmouth to Sidford cycle route… The appeal should therefore be allowed."

The decision brings an end to a three-year saga surrounding the application, which was first submitted in 2016.

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The latest application, submitted in May last year, proposed a scaled-down version of the original development.

The change-of-use plans were opposed by Sidmouth Town Council and, ultimately, East Devon District Council, prompting the authority to refuse the application in October last year.

An appeal was lodged by applicants Mike and Tim Ford earlier this year, and arguments were heard at the inquiry.

Following the inquiry, Mr Fleming visited the site.

In his report, Mr Fleming said: "There is no substantive evidence before me to suggest that the employment needs of the area have changed or that the Alexandria Industrial Estate constraints have been overcome since the local plan was examined and subsequently adopted. The appeal site is therefore clearly needed to meet the need for a mix and variety of all types of employment space in the area. I find the traffic related to B8 (storage or distribution) element of the proposed development would not compromise highway safety or the satisfactory operation of the highway network."

The inspector said costs were refused.

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