Friday, November 2, 2012
NATURAL England has objected to proposals to turn a 12-acre wedge of countryside on Sidmouth’s outskirts into a business park, writes Stefan Gordon.
The conservation authority said it could not endorse aspects of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Local Plan – as it hadn’t seen evidence to justify mooted developments in - or near - protected landscapes.
Advisers told EDDC chiefs they did not support proposals for a jobs hub in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) north of Sidford.
It was stated the allocation did not satisfy the requirements of national planning policy.
Natural England serves to ensure the natural environment is conserved, enhanced, and managed for the benefit of current and future generations.
Little-seen correspondence penned to EDDC in May, brought to the attention of the Herald this week, responded to a consultation on the Local Plan and said the “soundness” of the document, “while containing many policies and proposals to safeguard and enhance the natural environment”, remained “uncertain”.
It said the draft 15-year future vision had an “incomplete” evidence base and added there is “no justification and analysis for the scale and location of proposals for development in or potentially impacting on” protected landscapes.
Natural England’s lead adviser referred to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), saying that the allocation of sites within, or impacting upon, designated landscapes must be assessed for:
● The need of development in that location;
● The cost and scope of meeting that need;
● An assessment of how any detrimental effect and the extent of how this could be moderated.
The adviser notes an EDDC document aimed at justifying employment need – but maintained its objection to the allocation of a jobs site within the AONB at Sidford “until the assessment required by the NPPF identifies this as a suitable location”.
“It is considered this assessment, which should include a sensitivity and capacity study, should be completed before further consideration of the allocation,” said the correspondence.
On Sidmouth, the report also says: “Given the sensitivity of the town it is disappointing that, despite recognising the importance of the town as an all-year-round tourist destination, there is no recognition of the environment’s important role in that function.”