Sunday, 5 June 2016

Sidford business park > Fords planning application >>> 16/0669/MOUT >>> E9 - Town Centre Vitality and Shopping Areas: "The establishment of new shops which are outside defined town centres or which would extend the shopping areas will not be permitted if they would harm the convenience, vitality or viability of the town centre."

The basic argument supporting the planning application for an industrial estate at Sidford is that the area needs more employment land - and, based on the evidence supporting the Local Plan, the Inspector agreed:
Futures Forum: Sidford business park > Fords planning application >>> 16/0669/MOUT >>> the applicant, the East Devon Business Forum and lobbying for more employment land

However, this planning application goes beyond what was expected: this is not simply the 'office space' which was originally mooted.

The Vision Group's submission to the Local Plan in 2012/13 referred to the concerns of Sidmouth's main bodies:

Strategy 1 - Spatial Strategy for Development in East Devon 
Employment Provision 
Strategy 26 - Development at Sidmouth: 2. Jobs 
(submitted 8th June 2012) 

All the major local bodies in Sidmouth have expressed concern about the status of any new employment land: 

Sidmouth Town Council: 
“Any future development should be restricted to B1 and B2 and consideration given to the area north of the A3052 (above Waitrose) and not the proposed site at Sidford.” http://www.sidmouth.gov.uk/PDFs/STC%20Minutes%202012/STC-210512.pdf 

Sid Vale Association: 
“4.7. We understand that the Employment land would have “a particular onus” in favour of B1 zoning. This is primarily for ofce space, but B1 includes industrial uses that are acceptable in residential areas. 
We are very concerned that if new employment land is allocated in the LDP, pressure will come from others, such as Supermarket operators, to establish themselves, which will be harder to resist.” http://www.sidvaleassociation.org.uk/index.php?page=sva-response-to-ldp-2012 

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce: 
“The document states that there will be ’a particular onus’ on B1 use, but statements from the authority say that the employment land will be restricted to ’ofce use only’;… that there will only be a ‘particular onus’ on B1 use, so other use classes such as retail are not precluded, merely discouraged. 
We do not believe that this vague wording adds up to a meaningful policy that would stand up to challenge from a determined applicant, acting in partnership with the owner of the site or sites who will be keen to extend the range of use classes for obvious commercial reasons.” 
(Submission of 28th January as yet not available on-line at www.eddc.gov.uk .)

REPRESENTATION TO LOCAL PLAN - final version - vision group for sidmouth - 14jan13

The original planning application was withdrawn in 2012:
‘Incomplete’ Sidford business park application ‘returned to Fords’ - Home - Sidmouth Herald
Futures Forum: Sidford business park: latest plans
Futures Forum: Sidford plans in detail

Since the Inspector approved the Local Plan, the type of development being proposed at Sidford has altered - as pointed out by many commentators, including this:
URGENT! Sidford Business Park Planning Application now in. “The more people who write in, the better”. DEADLINE for comments, WEDS 8th JUNE. | Save Our Sidmouth

In Fords' current planning application 16/0669/MOUT, the type of development goes beyond the originally-stated classification:

15.07: The Council has undertaken a Housing and Employment Study which was submitted as background evidence to the development of the Local Plan. This evidence was found to be sound and concluded that 32.2 hectares of land for classes B1 [office], B2 [general] and B8 [distribution / warehousing] would be needed between 2011 and 2031.

The B2 'general' and B8 'distribution/warehousing' categories could in fact morph into anything. And this need not prevent applications for 'retail' to be applied for - or even simply happen over time, as it has at Honiton's Heathpark industrial estate:

This contradicts the Employment Strategy E9 in the adopted Local Plan:

E9 - Town Centre Vitality and Shopping Areas: 

The viability of town centres relies on their ability to be competitive, and this policy seeks to ensure this. Within Town Centre Shopping Areas as defined on the Proposals Map (outside the Defined Primary Shopping Frontages) proposals for both retail and non-retail uses which would add variety and increase activity and uses in Classes A2 and A3 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes Order) 1987 will be permitted provided: 

1. The use would not undermine the shopping character, and visual amenity, vitality or viability of the town centre. 
2. The amenity interest of occupiers of adjoining properties is not adversely affected by reason of noise, smell or litter. 
3. It would not cause traffic problems. 
4. Permission for change of use will not be permitted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that there is no longer a need for such uses and that the building or site has been marketed for at least 12 months (and up to two years depending on market conditions) at a realistic price without interest. 

Other non-retail uses will not be permitted unless the same criteria are met and the use would not harm the diversity, viability and vitality of the centre. 

The establishment of new shops which are outside defined town centres or which would extend the shopping areas will not be permitted if they would harm the convenience, vitality or viability of the town centre


This Strategy is based on the evidence gathered for the 'Vitality of High Streets and Town Centres' report - which spoke out against out-of-town shopping centres - which Heathpark in Honiton has evolved into:

“This report identifies some issues that may help town centre vitality but the fundamental matter that needs to be addressed is the lack of competitiveness of town centre shops compared with out of town shopping. Despite the view of valuation officers, we conclude that rate valuations favour large out of town stores. Such stores also provide free convenient parking compared with expensive and sometimes inadequate parking in town. This is an issue that has to be resolved if town centre shopping is to survive.”

Vitality of High Streets and Town Centres | Save Our Sidmouth

This 2012 report was put together in the context of stores moving to out-of-town retail parks:

The 2012 report on town centre vitality came as the Portas Report came out on the future of Britain's high streets:
Futures Forum: Can anyone save the High Street?

Or a 'ghost town'?
Futures Forum: Why buy local?

Besides, what is the difference between a 'business park' and a 'retail park'?
Futures Forum: Are 'retail parks' a good thing?
Futures Forum: What is the difference between a 'business park'... and a 'retail park'?
Futures Forum: What is the difference between a 'business park'... and a 'retail park'... Part Two

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