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Knowle planning application: March 2024: VGS submission

  • by JW

The closing date for comments is tomorrow, Friday 8th March.


A month ago, the latest Knowle planning application was rejected; and yet, a mere couple of weeks later, the developer put in another planning application – which was a tweaked version of the earlier application.

As one commentator has pointed out succinctly:

This is basically the same application with only the minor alteration of the removal of a few balconies.  There were also the amended plans which were submitted to the previous application (in September 2023) which removed the two lower chalets and the use of this area for additional car parking and the small movement of the Retirement Living Block.

The VGS put in its own submission to the earlier Knowle planning application back in April last year, which focused on the specific issues of Affordable Housing and Balanced Communities – with particular reference to both the East Devon Local Plan and the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

The Vision Group for Sidmouth has also objected to the latest planning application 24/0263/MFUL:

24/0263/MFUL | Redevelopment of site … (Demolition of buildings other than building B) (Variation to previous application (23/0571/MFUL) showing removal of balconies and elevational changes to west elevation of Retirement Living block) | Former Council Offices Knowle Sidmouth Devon EX10 8HL


The VGS submission focussed firstly on how this application fails to address a very weak national and local market for ‘retirement homes’. Here is another commentator

I really agree with the criticism and implications regarding McCarthy and Stone type retirement housing not being the way forward… I feel people are becoming wiser to the downside of retirement housing and as a result properties will become even more difficult to sell.


The VGS submission also focusses on the issues of affordable housing and balanced communities as laid out in the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan and the East Devon Local Plan.

To quote from the VGS objection to the earlier planning application:

It is abundantly clear that the latest planning application at Knowle is treading the same path as those others advanced over the last decade. Its proposals for a ghetto for the elderly, many of whom would need care, are themselves unviable. These proposals not only fail to provide the Affordable Housing as stipulated in the ED Local Plan, but seriously undermine the determination of the SV Neighbourhood Plan to create viable Balanced Communities in the Sid Valley.”

Because planning application 24/0263/MFUL is almost identical to its predecessor planning application 23/0571/MFUL, the Vision Group for Sidmouth has included its Objection of April 2023 in its latest Objection – as the issues addressed in the former have clearly not been addressed.


Finally, the pages of comments on the council’s planning page are dominated by objections – including from Di Fuller (of Sid Valley HELP), Kelvin Dent (Chair of the Knowle Residents’ Association), Barry Curwen (founder and original member of the VGS), Ed Dolphin (also local resident), Cllr Marianne Rixson, and Mike Temple (also local resident).

The closing date for comments is tomorrow, Friday 8th March.