“Say NO to Sidford Business Park” campaign newsletter and fundraising event

“We hope that you had a good Christmas and wish you a very Happy New Year!

In this newsletter –
v Approaching any potential planning appeal
v A fundraising event on 23 February
v Opening a Campaign bank account

Approaching any potential planning appeal
We still don’t know whether the applicants who submitted the planning application to build the Business Park in Sidford intend to appeal against the District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for this site, the second application in as many years. Should the applicants want to appeal they have up to 6 months from when the District Council made its decision to do so.

The applicants therefore have until 18 April to lodge any appeal. Should the applicants decide not to appeal it would be nice to think that they would announce this so that local residents can be put out of their misery as otherwise this matter sits uneasily over us all.

We have had to assume that without any evidence to the contrary, the applicants will at some point submit an appeal. We are therefore preparing ourselves should an appeal happen.

At an appeal the District Council will have to defend its decision to refuse the planning application. As its grounds for refusing planning permission were restricted to the narrow issue of the highway not being suitable for the anticipated size and volume of traffic that the Business Park could be expected to generate, we have decided that we would want the Campaign to be a party to the appeal process.

The Campaign, and many of you who have supported it, have cited broader reasons, than those put forward by the District Council, for opposing the proposed Business Park. Therefore, the Campaign would want to become a formally registered party which could fully participate at an appeal. We believe that the District Council was wrong to only rely upon highways arguments for its refusal, hence the reason why we feel the need to be a party to any appeal hearing.

However, if the Campaign is going to do all of this effectively, we believe that we are going to have to employ a planning professional to make the arguments and to cross examine the applicants’ representatives and witnesses for us. As you can imagine to do this won’t come cheaply. Potentially, we would need to raise several tens of thousands of pounds to be professionally represented. We are in the process of contacting various people with the intention of identifying such a professional and a likely cost.

It is also our hope that other organisations who submitted objections to the planning application would also want to be a party to any appeal process. In particular, we would encourage the Town Council, which submitted a broad set of objections, would make its arguments at any appeal hearing. Indeed, there is no reason why other organisations such as the County Council couldn’t do likewise.

As we say, we are having to assume that we will need to be professionally represented at an appeal if one is held. That means that we have to think about how we might raise many thousands of pounds. One way will be to seek pledges of funds from our supporters. This is something that we will return to in a future newsletter.

A fundraising event on 23 February
In the meantime we are holding a fundraising ceilidh on the evening of Saturday 23 February in Sidford Hall. Tickets will be £5.00 and you will be able to bring your own drink. We will be holding a raffle and inviting donations of prizes for it. Further information about this event will be circulated soon and, in the meantime, we are approaching several businesses in Sidford and Sidbury to see whether they would agree to sell tickets.

If you are willing to donate a prize for the raffle please let us know! Please put this date in your diary!

Opening a Campaign bank account
So far, we have managed to run this Campaign on the basis of raising cash from you, our supporters. At our last public meeting we explained how much we had raised and what we had spent it on. On several occasions we have been asked whether we have a bank account to allow supporters to give donations by cheque. We have resisted opening a bank account as frankly it’s a time-consuming process.

But as we may now have to possibly raise a significant amount of money to pay for professional representation at an appeal, we have started the process of opening a Lloyds Bank account. Once this process has been finalised, we will circulate its details.

As we said at the beginning of this newsletter, we wish you a Happy New Year. Let’s hope that our wishes for this matter to come to a quick conclusion come to fruition.

Best wishes

Campaign Team”