Sidmouth future vision consultation warning

‘Clock is ticking’ warns EDDC

SIDMOUTH and Ottery St Mary residents have been told the ‘clock is ticking’ for them to have a say on a blueprint for the future of the region.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) latest Local Plan is out for public review until January 31.

Town councils are set to voice their final views on the 15-year vision after meetings this month – and individual comments are also being sought.

An EDDC spokesman said Sidmouth Town Council has asked for a new health centre, conference facilities, and a possible new educational campus north of the A3052.

Councillors also requested EDDC upholds the town’s tourism policy and provides balanced housing provision.

They also said any relocation of EDDC from Knowle must ensure new use of the site will enhance and benefit Sidmouth.

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The spokesman added that Sidmouth’s mooted housing growth had been chopped by 40 per cent in the new plan, which also promises protection for the Sid Valley and its Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The document features a predicted 150 new homes for Sidmouth and a ‘non-strategic allocation’ - land the council believes, in principle, Sidmouth is likely to need “in order to thrive” - of five hectares.

Councillor Mike Allen, chairman of the Local Plan panel, said the blueprint wouldn’t be able to deliver everybody’s wish list.

He added: “We want jobs and suitable housing for young and elderly residents, as well as the broad range of working age people. Although we aim for about 15,000 new dwellings (in the region), we have an expectation that initial delivery of homes and office space will be slow until 2013 and that more development will only come with improved economic growth and especially growth in incomes.”

Cllr Allen added green wedges will separate towns from each other and “every attempt” to preserve AONBs, and agricultural land, is written into the plan.

He said: “Government wants us to identify where change and growth can happen so that social and physical infrastructure can be planned to support it. For January, we are still in evidence-gathering mode.”

Ottery civic leaders have pleaded that no more than 300 homes be built there, according to EDDC.

A spokesman said town councillors wanted to see 90 dwellings at the derelict factory site - with 40 per cent designated ‘affordable’ dwellings.

Representatives also asked for a sewerage system upgrade and questioned the need for a proposed three hectares of employment Land.

The Local Plan recommendation for Ottery now stands at 450 new houses, including a ‘strategic allocation’ for 350 houses to the west and more focus on upgrading The King’s School.

Councillor Allen said: “I visited Ottery Town Council among others to specifically ask for evidence for their proposition in view of the number of young people wishing to leave Ottery and the virtual lack of affordable housing or modern office space”.

Controversial plans to build homes in Tipton St John have failed to win the backing of Ottery civic leaders and are still being debated by EDDC.

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