Sidmouth town-centre 'retirement community' plans

PUBLISHED: 15:35 04 February 2011

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a 'gated' retirement community boasting 12 homes in Sidmouth town centre are on the verge of being given the go-ahead.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a ‘gated’ retirement community boasting 12 homes in Sidmouth town centre are on the verge of being given the go-ahead.

Blue Cedar Homes’ blueprints to transform Parsons Yard in Mill Street have been recommended for approval by East Devon District Council (EDDC) planning officers.

The fate of proposals will be decided when they go before the authority’s development management committee for a second time on Tuesday.

The Herald reported last month how committee members deferred their decision to allow negotiations with the developer over concerns relating to the ‘gated’ nature of the bid and an intention to divert a footpath running through the site.

Sidmouth councillors labelled the ‘gated’ element as “divisive” and that it would give a “fortress mentality.”

An EDDC planning officer’s report to committee members reveals the developer has offered to keep proposed entrance gates to the mooted “Mill Gardens”- a retirement community with a dozen dwellings’- open during daylight hours.

Officers also reveal the developer still insists the diversion of a public right of way is an “essential component” of the proposed bid.

The officer writes: “It remains the view of officers that, not withstanding the concerns raised regarding the potential for the proposed layout and gated access to create a divisive form of development, the proposed development is acceptable.

“Any case to argue for refusal of this application because it is a gated community on grounds of social integration would appear to be weak.”

“Concern has been raised from residents living in Chanters Court regarding the impact the proposed (footpath) diversion will have on their amenity, in terms of loss of privacy, security and nuisance, and their concern is appreciated, however some development of this site is likely to occur.”

A diversion request from the developer has been made to Devon County Council and “passed the relevant tests” to become a reality, the report reveals.

Officers recommend the bid for approval on the condition access gates remain open during daylight hours.

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