Letter of objection, 24 March 2004, sent to East Devon District Council and concerning planning applications at Hamilton Garage, Sidford.

EDDC Planning Dept
The Knowle
EX10 8HL

Dear Sirs

RE: Hamilton Garage Applications 04/P/0496 and 04/P/0497


I copied to you a letter dated 10 March addressed to the EA - this contained a formal letter of objection to these applications. I now wish to add further objections and for your convenience I am repeating my earlier comments below - there are a few slight amendments also. A copy of this letter is to be placed on both the above files. My letter of 15 March to your Mr Hassan also refers to the inadequate manner in which these applications have been handled.

I hereby object on planning grounds to the proposed development(s) as follows

1. The proposal for dwellings is in a flood plain and on a site that has regularly flooded in the past and that may be expected to suffer more severe flooding in the future (the reasons for this are explained in my letter to the EA).

2. The proposal for four dwelling units represents over development of a small site in a sensitive area.

3. The proposal for housing so close to the river would have serious consequences for wildlife - I have argued elsewhere that wherever possible developments close to rivers should be avoided (www.seered.co.uk/otters.htm)

4. The proposed housing development would adversely affect neighbouring properties by encroaching upon the flood plain in exactly the area where flood water needs temporarily to be accommodated if it is not to pose an increased risk to low-lying properties along Packhorse Close and in the adjoining areas in and around England's Close. It is to be expected that this small local area may suffer more severe flooding in future because of alterations that have taken place since the flood of 1997.(The reasons for this are explained in my letter to the EA)

5. Development of additional ground floor commercial accommodation will encroach upon land that may be within the formal flood plain and adversely affect the flooding risk for adjoining properties - but less so than for the proposed housing because the land is higher.

6. Both the proposed dwellings and (less so) the proposed second storey additions to the commercial premises will detract markedly from the scenic and amenity value of the area around the Packhorse Bridge which is a favourite spot for ramblers and other tourists.

7. For sites such as 'Village End' the EA requests that a development free zone of 7 metres be left between the top of the river bank and any 'development'. The intent here is to minimise disturbance to sensitive wildlife. In the plans as submitted there is a zone of about this width but it is intended to comprise small gardens for the proposed properties. Inevitably, the disturbance to wildlife may be considerably greater than has been the case in the past where the 7 metre zone was at the end of a much longer garden. Allowing three small and perhaps intensively used small gardens very close to the river bank would go completely against the spirit of the EA's request - despite that formally they accept that gardens do not constitute 'development' if the area was previously a garden.

8. In the application to extend the garage buildings (04/P/0496), there is a statement " no alteration to existing. extensive car parking and customer parking on site". This is materially misleading, as is more fully outlined below.

9. The present position is that cars awaiting repair are often stored on England's Close and sometimes minor inspections (under bonnet etc) are undertaken on this road, the car park and workshops being full to capacity. New cars are routinely off loaded either on the main road or in Packhorse Close because England's Close is full of parked vehicles.

10. If this application would result in any loss of car parking space to the rear of the garage, this could impact on the day-by-day parking situation on-road locally and should properly be taken into account. The fact that England's Close if often virtually full of parked cars (including illegal all day parking on the yellow lines) also impacts on the viability of a further road access especially as it is proposed so close to the junction of England's Close and the A3052. Indeed the position of the proposed road access itself should be sufficient grounds to refuse the application.

11. The parking situation at present and no doubt in the future is that there is NOT adequate on-site car parking for this garage business as it is presently conducted. Expansion can only make matters worse - and including Packhorse Close as well as England's Close becoming on-road storage areas for cars and vans belonging to the garage or awaiting repair or servicing.

12. There is another matter to consider in respect of the proposed garage extension. Trees and vegetation have been cleared from adjoining land (the land that once was the garden for Village End) so that the present garage buildings and also the proposed extensions will be highly visible within a Conservation Area. (Photos are available on the seered website). As a part of planning consent it could be argued that the Town Council should have insisted that tree cover and screening be reinstated in the interests of visual amenity - but no doubt most members had never seen the site and few if any would have known about changes that have recently taken place. Certainly this is a condition that EDDC should consider imposing whether or not the application 0496 is referred back to the Town Council.

13. The application to build four dwellings in the garden of the property 'Village End' (04/P/0497) cites the present use of land as "Vacant land and part garage". This is surely materially incorrect. The land (before it was despoiled as described in my letter to the EA of 10 March) was primarily the garden of Village End and indeed much of the proposed site is still used a garden for this (now rented) domestic property. The only part of 'garage land' would be to provide the proposed access road by demolishing a single storey building. It is one thing to use 'vacant and garage land'. It is quite another to turn a once verdant domestic garden in a Conservation Area into a building site and, inter alia, to reduce the area of garden and parking space for an established village property from around half an acre to a few square metres.

14. There is also the matter of a statement made in this application in answer to your question: "Does the proposed development involve the felling of any trees". In the application the answer is printed as "No". Please refer to my letter of 10 March to the EA and to the photographs on the seered website and inform me in writing what action your Authority has taken or intends to take properly to investigate and pursue this matter.

Yours faithfully

Dr Stephen J Wozniak

copy by email
Sidmouth Town Council
Env Agency, Exeter

photos of the trees in question

next page details of land ownership

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