Residents say resounding ‘yes’ to Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan in referendum – with 19.4% of electorate turning out to vote

A blueprint for the future of Sidmouth, Sidford, Sidbury and Salcombe Regis has won the public’s seal of approval in a referendum– netting 90 per cent of the vote.

Less than a quarter of eligible residents turned out at the polls to have a say on the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

The detailed document – which will help shape development in the parishes over the next decade and beyond – has been three years in the making.

Results of Thursday’s referendum were revealed this morning.

Voters were asked:

 Do you want East Devon District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Sidmouth to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

Some 2,140 people votes ‘yes’, with 227 responding ‘no’. There were five ‘void’ ballots.

A total of 2,372 residents voted out of an electorate of 12,228 – 19.4 per cent.

Sidmouth Town Council has put together the plan in consultation with the community.

It includes policies that will influence how planning applications are determined until 2031.

The plan is the culmination of more than three years’ work by volunteers in the local community.

It is the 17th neighbourhood plan to be adopted in East Devon to date – covering more than 50 per cent of the district’s population.

Subject to approval by East Devon District Council’s cabinet, the plan will be officially ‘made’ and become a legal planning document to help shape any development in the area.

It includes a policy that any new open market housing, excluding replacement dwellings, will only be supported when it is restricted to being used as a ‘principal residence’ and not as a ‘second home’.

A similar restriction which effectively bans any new second homes being built has previously been imposed in areas of North Devon and the South Hams.

The plan also says there will be a presumption against  any development proposal within ‘green wedges’ and calls for the protection of open spaces such as parks, The Byes, Knowle, Connaught Gardens and the beach.

Other policies call for appropriate developments to complement and protect the natural environment, while improving the existing built environment in the town and villages.

The development of a safe pedestrian/cycle crossing over the A3052 between the Bowd and Woolbrook Junction to link with the planned Otter Trail, and the development of a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists from Sidbury to Sidford, which will cross the tiger crossing in Sidford and link with The Byes, are both supported.

Following the approval by a planning inspector of the new Sidford Business Park, Devon County Council are working up proposals for the Sidford to Sidbury cycle path and a planning application is expected to be submitted shortly.

Any development for the eastern end of Sidmouth around Port Royal should reinvigorate the town and become a culturally vibrant centre for the community and visitors, says the plan.

Proposals have already been submitted by Rockfish to open a restaurant in the Drill Hall building.

Read more about the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan here.

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