Sidmouth vets bid is put down

AN APPEAL to resurrect rejected proposals for a veterinary practice at Sidmouth Garden Centre has been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate.

The verdict on Tuesday came exactly two weeks after a public inquiry was staged over blueprints for a single-storey premises in the business’ car park.

Garden centre owner Ian Barlow had appealed two decisions by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to turn down a pair of planning applications.

The Planning Inspectorate had the power to reverse the rulings - but opted not to do so.

Mr Barlow said yesterday that he hoped to engage in new negotiations with district council officers on a scheme they would find acceptable.

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“We feel it’s a great shame and a missed opportunity,” he told the Herald.

EDDC had argued the proposed veterinary practice, which would be utilised by an independent business, would be detrimental to the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

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Planning inspector Rupert Grantham said in a report detailing the appeal decision: “The main issue raised by both appeals is whether the proposed development would result in harm to the character and appearance of the area and, if so, whether that harm would be outweighed by the need for development.”

He said that, despite nearby housing developments taking place in the AONB over the road from the garden centre, land to the north of the A3052 remained “unspoilt”.

Mr Grantham added the mooted timber clad practice, set partially into the hillside, would “aggravate” the garden centre’s impact on the AONB.

“Neither scheme would succeed in conserving or enhancing the landscape character of the area,” he said.

Mr Grantham concluded the need for the proposed development wasn’t sufficient to outweigh the “significant harm” that either scheme would cause to the area’s character and appearance.

More than 1,000 people last year signed a petition calling for the proposed veterinary practice to become a reality.

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