Supermarket fear over Sidmouth employment land

SUPERMARKETS could look to build on Sidmouth’s outskirts if a controversial bid to identify nearly 12-and-a-half-acres of employment land is given the go-ahead, a town councillor warned.

John Dyson told colleagues last week: “We’ve got to preserve our town centre as far as we reasonably can.”

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Local Plan, currently out for public consultation, suggests Sidmouth’s future could feature a need for employment land equivalent in size to 11 football pitches.

Mr Dyson wanted any use of such land to be specified and added: “It’s quite unnecessary and excessive.

“I would hate to see a situation arise in ten to 15 years time, if the employment land is unused, where a supermarket could come along and propose to put something there. We have sufficient retail and out-of-town facilities.”

EDDC has suggested in its Local Plan that Sidmouth will need new employment sites to “thrive”. It also proposes 150 new homes.

Sidmouth’s ‘strategic allocation’ for employment land, deemed vital to delivering EDDC’s overall planning strategy where specific sites have been identified, is in fact zero.

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Its ‘non-strategic allocation’, land the council believes – in principle - Sidmouth is likely to need, is five hectares.

At a meeting of Sidmouth Town Council last week, chairman Stuart Hughes said there was a need for such provision to boost young people.

“At the moment everyone is going out of town to work and that is wrong,” he said.

He added that the council had requested that land “adjacent to the A3052” is where any site should go.

Councillor Graham Liverton reiterated a desire to see the Alexandria Industrial Estate relocated so it could be freed up for housing.

Richard Eley, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce,told the Herald yesterday: “The big danger is that if the land is designated for employment, and is not used, then a supermarket is sure to try and occupy it.

“The viability of the town centre would be threatened.”

He added that, if a plot previously designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is designated as employment land, the major planning stumbling block for a supermarket would be removed.

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