Articles in Sidmouth Herald 13 December 2013, concerning the land proposed for the new campsite.

These articles follow the decision by the Licensing Committee of East Devon District Council on 10 December 2013 to allow the use of the proposed new campsite at the top of Salcombe Hill. Many objections were received and local feeling at the time was very much against the idea - mainly citing concerns about traffic and risks on the very steep narrow hill leading from Sidmouth as well as disruption to the normally sleepy village of Salcombe Regis itself. Amongst the 'farcical' aspects of the application were cited:

Site move plan for Sidmouth FolkWeek

A LICENCE for Sidmouth FolkWeek to leave its long-term Bulverton base for Salcombe Regis has been granted - despite widespread opposition from nearby residents.

Organisers hope to move the festival across town in time for its 60th anniversary to allow it to expand and secure its future. Festival director John Braithwaite said it will be a wholesale transfer of the operation at Bulverton, which has gone on largely without incident or complaint for many years.

He said the Bulverton site is on a steep incline and only 70 per cent can be occupied, whereas Salcombe Hill is flatter and has better drainage. The new 13-acre site has won a licence to provide entertainment and refreshment into the early hours to 1,500 revellers. His colleague John Radford said a traffic management plan for the week had been finalised with Devon County Council on Monday, but was not ready for consideration before the licensing subcommittee.

This attracted criticism, but the councillors verified that the plan had been approved before making their decision. As a result of suggestions from one resident at a mediation meeting, manned traffic lights are set to be installed at two pinch points on Salcombe Hill Road and the 60mph speed limit will be cut to 30mph. Large vehicles will be escorted by marshals and the double decker buses of previous years are being replaced with two minibuses for between 16 and 24 people. Licensing subcommittee chairman Steve Hall said there were no relevant licensing objections and there was no alternative but to grant the application.

The committee was convinced by the event organisers' history of responsibility and a lack of objections from the police or county council highways authority. Speaking after the meeting on Tuesday, festival director John Braithwaite said: "We were delighted with the decision. It reflects the amount of effort we have put in to ensure that Salcombe Regis is the right site. We will now look at the next stage of our planning."

Objectors brand move 'irresponsible'

OBJECTIONS to the application ranged from illegal camping and litter to traffic chaos and noise carrying across the valley. More than 60 letters were submitted against the plans, and the points were summarised by four speakers at the licensing meeting.

Southway resident Diane Janes said the organisers could not simply assume that any site they chose was suitable for such a large scale event, and added that while FolkWeek has an existing alternative site, the residents of the 300 closest homes have nowhere else to go. Ms Janes said the lack of access to the traffic management plan at the meeting was an 'insurmountable issue' and they could not be expected to take the applicants' word.

"To grant the application would be grossly irresponsible," she said.

Richard Huntington said Salcombe Hill Road is only wide enough for one vehicle, and trying to reverse a caravan down it would be 'difficult, if not impossible'. He added that large vehicles are advised not to use the road, and that Sidmouth Town Council has previously considered a compulsory purchase order to add a passing place.

"We are faced with large numbers of visitors travelling from Salcombe Regis recreational field at night along a road entirely unsuitable for the purpose," said .Mr Huntington.

He was also concerned about emergency access, and said one resident is a healthcare specialist who is on call 24 hours a day.

Alastair Letty added: "The move will compound an already intolerable problem." Objectors said it is 'only a matter or time' before there is a serious accident on Salcombe Hill Road, and the likelihood of it happening is increased with the increased volume of traffic and the inebriated pedestrians.

They are looking at appealing the decision and will have another chance to speak out when a planning application is submitted.

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