VIDEO and PICTURES Knowle Protest

Save Our Sidmouth petition nets 1,000 signatures .

Save Our Sidmouth (SOS) members marched on Knowle this week after bagging a bumper amount of support the weekend before.

An SOS spokesperson said: “We were overwhelmed by the support given by almost everyone we met.”

The group has vowed to fight East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) vision for the region and was out in the town again on Saturday (May 12) canvassing for support.

Around 150 SOS campaigners staged a protest at EDDC’s headquarters last Tuesday before a meeting of the authority’s development management committee.

A council spokesman said the demonstration “passed of peacefully” and added: “It is to be hoped that they left with a better understanding of the long and painstaking process that EDDC is following in order to produce a Local Plan that provides East Devon with homes and jobs over the coming 15 years, while preserving the natural environment of our beautiful district.”

Residents have a four-week window of opportunity to have their say on a controversial vision for the future of the Sid Valley.

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East Devon District Council (EDDC) has launched a new public consultation following a special meeting of its development management committee on Tuesday.

Members agreed a further round of consultation should begin immediately so the electorate can give its views on detailed plans for towns in which sites for employment use and homes are earmarked.

In Sidmouth, five hectares of employment land are proposed for a site north of Sidford.

Fifty and 20 dwellings are proposed for Knowle and EDDC’s Manstone depot site respectively. Another 30 homes are included in a “mixed use” provision at Port Royal.

Development management committee chairman, Councillor Mark Williamson, said at Tuesday’s meeting: “Our shape and direction for Sidmouth… must meet Sidmouth’s aspirations as well as our own. I wish all of Sidmouth luck in the next few weeks.”

An EDDC spokesman said any revisions to proposals, based on the latest consultation, will be reported back to the committee on July 17 - with members’ recommendations reported to full council on July 25.

There will then be a further period of public consultation before the draft Local Plan is submitted to a Planning Inspector later this year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councillor Mike Allen, who chaired the Local Plan Panel which helped form proposals, said: “If we don’t do this, if we just go back to protecting everything, then we will fail to provide a sustainable future for the next generation.”

He had said previously: “We must protect our beautiful environment.”

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