Sidmouth Town Councillors slam latest Knowle proposals

One of the photomontages in PegasusLife's Knowle plans

One of the photomontages in PegasusLife's Knowle plans - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders are calling for 85 per cent of homes to be reserved for people in the town if plans go ahead

Design of Knowle from PegasusLife's design and access statement on October 28.

Design of Knowle from PegasusLife's design and access statement on October 28. - Credit: Archant

Developer PegasusLife stands accused of creating a ‘smokescreen’ with renewed plans for a 113-home retirement community - that town councillors say fail to address a raft of concerns.

Civic leaders slammed amended proposals at a meeting on Wednesday – adding renewed objections and stipulating that, if the project goes ahead, 85 per cent of the properties should be reserved for people in Sidmouth.

Town council planning comittee chairman Councillor Ian Barlow referred to a letter from district officers that, he said, implies the development will be classed as C2 – care accommodation – which means PegasusLife will not need to provide any ‘affordable’ housing or community funding for the town.

He called the classification ‘short-sighted’ and said it is not reasonable to have accommodation for the elderly, who will require looking after, and not include any provision for younger people.

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Speaking at the meeting, Knowle Drive resident Ed Dolphin said: “Pegasus has produced a whole flurry of documents, perhaps as a smokescreen for the fact that the development is still too large in scale.

“The drainage system I find alarming. There is a real threat of flash flooding.”

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District councillor Marianne Rixson pointed out that the development would take Sidmouth’s total of new homes to three times the amount allocated in East Devon’s Local Plan. She questioned where ‘affordable’ housing will come from.

Resident Michael Temple said amendments to decrease the footprint of ‘building E’ are minimal and said the structure would ‘dominate the skyline’.

Cllr Jeff Turner said: “I do not think the amendments submitted make any difference to what we said before, so all the objections still apply. I would ask that we add an additional statement regarding drainage. I’m not convinced that better drainage is not possible or affordable.”

Cllr Ian McKenzie-Edwards added: “If this scheme goes ahead, we are adding more elderly people to the population. We should rebalance the population of Sidmouth - older people need looking after.”

He added that the ‘point about drainage is very apt’ as ‘a lot of roofs’ and ‘impermeable surfaces’ will be added to the site.

Cllr Marc Kilsbie said: “I do not see how Pegasus can continue with the scale of their proposed plan and then say ‘we cannot afford to do anything about it’.”

A representative from PegasusLife attended the meeting and said the company has received enquiries from existing Sidmouth residents seeking to downsize - therefore, freeing up housing in the town.

In response, Cllr Barlow suggested it should be stipulated that a percentage of the accommodation should be reserved for Sidmouth residents.

Councillors voted unanimously not to support the application, added objections on the grounds of drainage and the C2 classification, and stipulated that 85 per cent of the homes should go to people in the town.

East Devon District Council will decide the fate of the application.

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