The idea of a ‘Vision for the Future’ and a group to champion it, was first presented at the annual Town Assembly Meeting of May 2005 by the Rev Handel Bennett, then Chair of the Sid Vale Association. He was concerned that Sidmouth would be unable to cope with the expected increase in visitors following the designation of the Jurassic Coast as a World Heritage Site.
As a result, about twenty local residents gathered at the Town Hall to set up the Vision Group for Sidmouth under the guidance of Ann Liverton, Chair of the Town Council at the time. Under the chairmanship of Alan Darrant, also Secretary of the SVA, the founding objectives were established:
- to mobilise the community to express its concerns and aspirations for the future of Sidmouth
- to create a concrete plan to be presented to and recognised by the District Council
- to provide a focus for local people and organisations to take up particular issues and pursue them to implementation
From 2005 VGS undertook to canvas the opinion of the Town on what it aspired to. There were 4 main strands to the study and the final document was submitted to East Devon District Council in 2006. The VGS study was supposed to provide information for the Development Plan ( or Local Plan) which EDDC was putting together at the time. After many tribulations East Devon’s Local Plan was finally adopted on 28th Jan 2016.
You can judge how much notice was taken of the VGS document by reading it yourself.
Since 2005, the VGS has worked on issues of concern to Sidmouth and helped the community speak up about aspirations for the future of Sidmouth. The survey of opinion in 2005 and first report in 2006 were in many ways the forerunner of the Neighbourhood Plan. It made clear that residents wished to maintain the area’s distinctive character while ensuring that future changes will be sustainable and underpinned by a vibrant local economy.
Now people are getting ready to be involved in helping to deliver the Community Actions which have come out of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.