<em“Appeal documents published this week reveal the continued strength of feeling against redevelopment plans for Knowle – with claims Sidmouth would be dealt a ‘devastating blow’.
PegasusLife has taken landowner East Devon District Council’s decision to refuse its scheme to the Planning Inspectorate.
In emotional submissions, residents said the developer’s proposals for 113 retirement flats ‘run a coach and horses’ over the site’s 50-home allocation in the Local Plan and would create an ‘elderly ghetto’.
Organisations including Sidmouth Arboretum, the Vision Group for Sidmouth, and the Knowle Residents’ Association have also responded to reiterate their calls for the application to be thrown out.
The Sid Vale Association said: “PegasusLife has clearly done its utmost to maximise the development on the site for commercial reasons.
“The appeal should be refused on the grounds that it seeks more than double the number of dwellings earmarked in the Local Plan; that it proposes buildings of a poor architectural design, and that its impacts on nearby residents and on the public parkland are unacceptable.”
Liz Fuller, the buildings at risk officer at SAVE Britain’s Heritage, restated its strong objection to the proposals, saying they represented a ‘devastating blow’ to the history and character of Sidmouth.
Knowle Drive resident Robin Fuller said: “If, at the first major test of the Local Plan, a developer succeeds in turning over its objectives by a huge margin, then the process of local planning is null and void and local democracy can be considered dead and buried.
“Approval on appeal will set a precedent for other developments to run a coach and horses through the intentions of the plan.”
PegasusLife said its scheme will only ‘materially impact’ Hillcrest and its amenity will not be adversely affected.
Homeowners Rob and Sandra Whittle challenged this, adding: “It is crucial that the planning inspector make an internal visit to Hillcrest to understand the negative impact on our home and appreciate what a permanently devastating blow this development in its present form would have on our lives.”
Submissions said 20 homes besides Hillcrest, in Knowle Drive and Broadway, would be adversely affected.
George and Ann Ellis live in Knowle Drive but were in support of the appeal. They said: “Although parts of the development will have some effect on us we feel that these will not be too much of an inconvenience in what to us seems an otherwise satisfactory and necessary scheme. We are very conscious that there is a great need for more housing in the UK with a growing and ageing population.
“Sidmouth is a very popular retirement location and there now appear to be few sites for development – hence the suitability of Knowle.
“There is a big demand for older people to downsize and the benefit of this is that more properties are freed up for younger families.”
EDDC’s development management committee defied officer advice to refuse the scheme last December – arguing it represented a departure from Knowle’s 50-home allocation in the Local Plan. Members also objected to the scale, height, bulk and massing of the proposed development.
At the appeal, PegasusLife will argue the scheme is ‘thoughtful and considered’, its benefits outweigh any potential harm to the listed summerhouse and there is a ‘compelling need’ for extra care accommodation in East Devon.
The deal is worth £7.505million to EDDC, which is relocating to Exmouth and Honiton.
The inquiry will open at 10am on Tuesday, November 28.”