Sidmouth retirement community in limbo

A DEVELOPER’S vision for a Sidmouth town-centre retirement community has been left in limbo after residents and ramblers won a battle to overturn a controversial footpath diversion.

“Frustrated” Blue Cedar Homes bosses will “reassess” their options over transforming Parsons Yard into 12 homes.

The Planning Inspectorate this week scuppered a bid to re-route a public right of way that cuts through the site.

Residents and East Devon Ramblers fought a county council order to divert a pedestrian link from Holmdale to Mill Street so it would bypass Parsons Yard.

A public inquiry was staged in January.

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Developers requested the security-minded diversion as part of proposals to build a ‘gated’ estate featuring ten cottages and two apartments.

Nick Yeo, area director for Blue Cedar Homes, said of this week’s decision: “It’s a significant and very disappointing setback, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the road.

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“We’ll undertake a very thorough assessment of all avenues open to us at the present time. We’ve invested a huge amount of time and money in this.”

Mr Yeo said he hoped that some type of development could take place as 100 people had registered their interest in the dwellings.

He added: “From our point-of-view we’re incredibly frustrated. We’ve maintained the diversion of the footpath is an essential part of our scheme.

“People have said to me they wouldn’t be interested in the scheme if a footpath were to run through the middle of the site. We need to provide a product that meets the requirements of our purchasers.”

Mr Yeo told the Herald last year that the scheme would not be able to proceed if the footpath wasn’t diverted.

Counters Court householders were among those to object to the diversion.

Rosemary Kimbell, a footpaths officer for the East Devon Ramblers, said she was pleased for residents.

Town councillor John Dyson, chairman of the Parish Paths Partnership, said: “I’m pleased with the outcome. I hope that Blue Cedar Homes do not carry out their threat to walk away, and we reach a sensible arrangement where the public right of way can pass through the development.”

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