Planning chiefs back details of controversial Sidford business park ‘through gritted teeth’

Councillors felt ‘between a rock and a hard place’ as they agreed to the size of buildings at a controversial business park at Sidford.

East Devon planning chiefs backed a reserved matters application for the plot at Two Bridges Road ‘through gritted teeth’.

It means the development will mainly consist of six-metre-tall structures, writes Local Democracy Reporter Joe Ives.

There will also be a pair of 7.5-metre-high buildings, roughly two storeys in height, next to its entrance.

Applicant 0G Holdings Retirement Benefit Scheme says the visual impact will be partly mitigated by new trees.

The overall scheme was approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in August 2019 after it had initially been rejected by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC).

A petition from the ‘Say No To Sidford Business Park’ campaign group at the time collected 1,500 signatures.

But the Government said that the creation of 250 jobs was one of the reasons the project should be given the go-ahead.

The land Sidford business park will be built on. Image: Daniel Clark/LDRS

The land Sidford business park will be built on. Image: Daniel Clark/LDRS

Campaigners who said 'No to Sidford business park' saw a petition signed by 1,500 people. Image: Image: Daniel Clark/LDRS

Campaigners who said ‘No to Sidford business park’ saw a petition signed by 1,500 people. Image: Image: Daniel Clark/LDRS

The December meeting of EDDC’s Planning Committee heard from one local resident that the development had driven them had driven them ‘beyond anger’.

Councillor Mike Howell sympathised with the objections raised, but said there were no grounds for refusal given the 2019 determination of the Planning Inspectorate.

He added: “It is purely scale we are talking about and this is exactly the same as the proposal that went to appeal.

“The scale is set. We are really struggling with this and I wish I could see any hope of amending, changing – doing anything.

“As far as I can see there is no hope in hell. In fact, I would say if we did vote against it we would have costs awarded against us for acting unreasonable.’”

Cllr Richard Lawrence said: “We are between a rock and a hard place and there is very little we can do about this.

“I can’t understand why the inspector gave these decisions, but at the end of the day we’re faced with them and we must comply with them.”

Cllr Joe Whibley added: “I would like the people who have objected to this to know that we do this through gritted teeth.

“This is not something that we’re all happy just to wave through. It’s incredibly frustrating.”

The proposed final appearance of the buildings will be voted on by the committee at a later date.

Council ‘very disappointed’ over appeal ruling for Sidford business park