Residents are poised to launch a legal challenge to stop a business park from being built in the Sidford countryside, district planning chiefs have been told.
A group hopes to pursue a judicial review over a government inspector’s ruling to allow the 8,445sq m employment site on a green plot off Two Bridges Road.
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Development Management Committee was told of the move at its September meeting.
Plans for the controversial development were rejected by EDDC last year over road safety concerns, only for the applicant to appeal the decision.
The challenge was the subject of a three-day public inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate in July – with the business park subsequently granted outline permission.
Councillor Paul Arnott told colleagues on the Development Management Committee at their latest meeting: “I’ve been advised that a group of local residents in Sidford are now taking initial legal advice with an intention to push this to judicial review.”
EDDC received 259 objections to the application and 110 letters of support last year.
A petition organised by the Say No to Sidford Business Park campaign group was signed by 1,398 residents in the EX10 area and another 200 from further afield.
Agricultural land will be transformed into 8,445sq m of floorspace as part of the scheme. New highway access will be created, as well as a cycle and footway, with improvements to flood attenuation.
A detailed planning application would still need to be approved for work to begin on the business park.
A judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
The process acts as a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.
The public inquiry in July heard of EDDC’s concerns regarding the number of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) accessing the site and the impact of this on highway safety in the area.
However, the inspector concluded: “The proposed development would help meet the significant employment needs of the area.
“The drainage and flood attenuation measures would reduce the risk of surface water flooding elsewhere.”
He added: “The proposal would also contribute towards a section of the Sidmouth to Sidford cycle route.
“These are significant benefits that outweigh the effects and inconvenience of the increase in HGV traffic in the area.”
Cllr Mike Howe, Development Management Committee chairman, said at the time of the inquiry outcome: “It is a great shame that the inspector did not agree with our concerns. I can only hope that our worst fears are not realised and the predicted accidents do not occur.”