Decision follows three-day inquiry last month

The Planning Inspectorate has announced today that it will allow a planning appeal for an employment site at Two Bridges Road, Sidford – the subject of a three day public inquiry last month.

The decision overturns the refusal of East Devon District Council who turned down the outline planning application under delegated powers for 8,445 sqm of new employment floor space, new highway access, cycle and footway, improvements to flood attenuation and associated works.

The inquiry heard of the Council’s concerns regarding the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV’s) accessing the site and the impact of this on highway safety in the area. Detailed evidence was given by officers from East Devon District Council and Highway Authority Devon County Council.

Despite acknowledging the problems caused by HGV’s using the roads near to the site which are narrow, with poor visibility and lacking footpaths, the inspector considered that there would be only a marginal increase in HGV’s in the area and that this would not be unsafe.

Many of the other concerns raised by the community were also considered including the impact on nearby listed buildings and the Sidmouth Conservation Area, flooding, air quality and noise.

Having considered all of the information presented to him at the inquiry, the Inspector concluded that “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 said:

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.

As a result of this decision outline planning permission has been granted and the principle of this development and the details of the access, landscaping and layout of the site have been agreed.

The applicants would now have to agree the details of scale and appearance through a reserved matters application to the Council before development could start on site. The Inspector also considered a claim from the developer for the Council to cover their costs in making the appeal arguing that the Council had acted unreasonably however the Inspector disagreed and the developers will have to cover their own costs.

Cllr Mike Howe, Chairman of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee, said:

I am very disappointed that the Planning Inspector feels that it is appropriate to allow a significant element of B8 (Storage and Distribution) uses on the site leading to an increase in HGV’s in the area. 

The other uses proposed for the site would not lead to HGV’s using the roads and this is why the local plan allocation for the site limits the uses that can be accommodated. This decision goes against the Local Plan allocation and imposes the impact of additional HGV’s on the local community when the Council was trying to avoid this. 

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.