Sidford Fields employment land: who knew what and when?

Leading up to the district council elections Councillor Stuart Hughes and (now ex) Councillor Troman made much of what they considered a successful effort to remove the Sidford Fields employment site from the Local Plan.

It was covered initially on this blog and here:

25 March 2015:

The Development Management Committee (DMC) rejected the amendment, but agreed to send a note to the Inspector advising him of the of the unprecedented number of representations that had been received about the Sidford Fields site, and pointing out the lack of need and environmental concerns, particularly flooding and traffic issues.

DMC refuses to amend Local Plan proposal for Sidford.

One day later, we read this:

“By a narrow margin of, we are told, 18 votes to 13, District Councillors at today’s Extra Ordinary meeting at Knowle, have decided to drop the controversial proposal for a 12 acre employment site at Sidford Fields.
Congratulations and thanks to Sidmouth Councillors Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman for proposing the amendment. As a recent commentator on this blog noted recently, Cllr Troman had already argued strongly at the Development Management Committee, that the Sidford site was not justified by the council’s own formulae.”

Proposed Sidford Business Park removed from Local Plan

However, CEO Mark Williams made his position clear here:

“The inspector has already heard everything we have said and is yet to tell us what his view is on that part of the application. He may recommend that this site is not suitable and should be removed. It’s his decision now, not yours.

“It’s your funeral if you want to take it out.”

Hughes made this comment in his Devon Conservatives blog for 16 April 2015:

“There appears to be some excellent news for Sidmouth and Sidford in that the Sidford Business/Retail Park that Graham Troman and I were successful in getting removed from the draft plan on the 26th March isn’t included …”

On this basis – choosing to ignore the warning of Williams – people might have been prepared to vote for them on these comments alone.


Did EDDC officers send (on behalf of the Development Management Committee) the extra information about the Sidford Fields site, pointing out the lack of need and environmental concerns, and flooding and traffic issue at the relevant time or at all?

As this is cited as a “main modification” can it still be challenged by EDDC before adoption of the Local Plan?

What would have been the outcome of elections if electors had realised that it was extremely unlikely that the site would actually be withdrawn, with or without additional information, in spite of the strong assurances put out by councillors Hughes and Troman?