Campaigners unite to oppose developments
By Exeter Express and Echo | Thursday, October 25, 2012, 06:45
CAMPAIGN groups and residents across East Devon will join forces next month to protest against East Devon District Council's plans for development.
People are being encouraged to join the demonstration at 11am on Saturday, November 3, along Sidmouth's Esplanade, organised by Sidmouth campaign group Save our Sidmouth (SOS).
The campaign will highlight opposition to the Local Plan document, which sets out where around 15,000 houses could be built between 2006 and 2026 across the district – in particular the controversial proposals for a 12-acre industrial estate between Sidford and Sidbury on the outskirts of Sidmouth.
The demonstration will also highlight opposition to the council's proposals to sell off the site of its headquarters for redevelopment.
So far groups taking part include environmental groups Sustainable Ottery, Transition Town Exmouth and Honiton and the East Devon Green Party.
In addition, representatives from the Budleigh Salterton Longboat Association, who are vehemently opposed to the council's decision to grant planning permission for the demolition and redevelopment of Britain's last Admiralty Longboat House in the town, will also attend.
Members of the Friends of Elizabeth Hall group from Exmouth, who organised a petition which attracted 12,000 signatures, against the sell-off and redevelopment of the community hall on the seafront, are also planning to attend the protest.
And residents from Westclyst on the outskirts of Exeter are also set to attend. Members of the hamlet east of Pinhoe claim their community will be "swallowed up" by development after the council approved a 450-home development, including shops, a primary school and a 250 space park-and-ride.
The site occupies fields at Old Park Farm, Pinn Hill on the B3181.
Plans for a 430-home development with shops, a community centre, a park-and-change facility and a 60-bed care home were also submitted in May for land opposite the approved development at Pinn Court Farm.
Westclyst resident Helen Newman, pictured left, said she would be attending the rally on behalf the Westclyst Want Answers action group.
"Although it is too late to save our area we believe, and evidence is coming out to support this, that the application was not heard on a fair and unbiased basis," she said.
"I will not be happy until a full independent investigation has taken place into the planning department at the council."
Council leader Paul Diviani said he respected the right to protest and said the authority was well aware of the concerns being raised. But he added: "In a district with a growing age profile, it is imperative that we provide homes and jobs to attract and retain younger individuals and families to ensure that we have a balanced population and a viable workforce to service the needs of all age groups. At times you have to take decisions that are not universally popular but which you feel to be right and for the benefit of the district as a whole. This is one such occasion."