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Bad for the area

PUBLISHED: 07:10 07 October 2012

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Archant

In his foreword to the New East Devon Local Plan, East Devon District Council leader Councillor Paul Diviani writes: "From the spectacular Jurassic Coast, through the rural landscapes of our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we are truly blessed with wonderful surroundings."

Why then is the council destabilising the countryside with 15,000 houses and 180 hectares of “employment land” which will suck the life out of town centres and fetter economic recovery?

Why is EDDC encouraging developers to accumulate land speculatively and divert scarce capital from investment in the local neighbourhoods?

Employment land is a euphemism for industrial development; it is spin for commercial premises such as warehouses and car parking. With disastrous environmental and ecological consequences, there is zero net cost-benefit for the community at large.

What concerns many is the plethora of commercial premises creeping over the picturesque landscape, increasing traffic movements on narrow roads throughout East Devon.

We witness it, for example, across the slopes of the Exe Valley along the A3052 corridor, including the recently proposed employment land on the fertile fields of Sidford.

Occupying valuable agriculture land, this industrialisation will damage the natural habitat impacting on food security for generations to come.

Ruining the tourism trade in the process such green field development will erode the future prosperity of local market and coastal towns.

Many of the developers, like the council leader, are long standing members of the East Devon Business Forum.

EDDC is itself, in an inappropriate alliance with a local Business Forum member’s plan (involving a national supermarket) to redistribute employment in the town to the north of Sidford.

According to the draft Local Plan there is to be a change of use at the Knowle and Manstone Depot from employment to residential.

The employment land allocation including 350 jobs at the Knowle is then parcelled with the Alexandria Road Industrial Estate initiative in the proposed five hectares within the Sidford AONB.

EDBF’s influence on the Local Plan and its privileged position as a consultee on EDDC planning decisions produces disproportionate green belt commerce at the expense of smaller businesses and local shops.

The zoning of out-of-town commercial and retail outlets will further contribute to the decline of the high street and quality of life in Sidmouth.

The majority of local people are not anti-enterprise but against unnecessary development damaging community resilience and our “wonderful surroundings”.

Instead of littering AONB fields with ubiquitous tin sheds, why not use capital to embrace innovation in the live-work mix along with social and cultural amenities within the town boundaries?

The EDDC’s relationship with unaccountable vested interest is untenable and those we entrust to serve us should be expected to provide the necessary civic leadership for all the community.

Graham Cooper

Via email

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