Sidmouth residents’ bid to save homes faces rejection

Last-gasp plea over �900k scheme to slow rapid cliff erosion

RESIDENTS turned activists face seeing a bid to save their homes from Sidmouth’s crumbling coastline being rejected.

Cliff Road householders will next week issue a last-gasp plea over their mooted �900,000 scheme to slow rapid erosion at Pennington Point.

Proposals for a 240metre rock revetment along the town’s eastern cliffs– it is hoped will prevent town flooding, protect Alma Bridge and the coastal footpath and save homes from toppling into the sea - have been recommended for refusal.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee will decide the fate of blueprints on Tuesday.

Experts have told members to turn the scheme down, as they feel protection of the World Heritage Site should take precedence over the applicants’ human rights.

Cliff Road Action Group (CRAG) campaigners, who spent �10,000 on the planning application, will ask for a change of heart at Knowle.

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“Dithering simply cannot go on,” Paul Griew told the Herald.

“If the councillors turn this scheme down now, I hope they will have good answers for those who may question that decision in the future.”

Residents say the proposal is designed to mitigate “extreme” levels of erosion triggered by the installation of rock islands years ago.

“The time for prevarication is over,” added Steve Chipperfield. “CRAG – and the town – expects EDDC to act responsibly and not to try and kick the ball into the long grass yet again.”

He added objector Natural England had carried out a “demolition job” on proposals.

An EDDC officer says in a report to development management committee members:

“Material considerations are not only the applicants’ human rights…but also the protection of the environment.

“To have this cliff face not only scarred by an unnatural revetment, but also undermining the natural processes of erosion…runs contrary to the reasons for its designation.

“While there is significant sympathy with the applicants and their aims and aspirations, it is not considered that their individual human rights outweigh the wider public interest and wider definition of sustainable development.”