A referendum will be held later this year on a blueprint for development for the Sid Valley.

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan has a vision of conserving and enhancing the picturesque location on the Jurassic Coast and that appropriate developments should complement and protect the natural environment.

An independent examiner has assessed the plan against a series of ‘basic conditions’ that the plan must meet, and East Devon District Council’s cabinet last week heard that with a few minor alterations, the plan had been declared sound and was recommended that it proceed to the referendum stage.

The cabinet unanimously agreed  to endorse the Examiner’s recommendations on the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan, the ‘referendum version’ of the Plan should proceed and that they would congratulate the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group on their hard work.

Cllr Bruce de Saram, East Devon District Council’s Neighbourhood Planning Lead, said he wanted to endorse the examiners recommendation and congratulated the steering group on getting to this stage.

The plan includes a policy that any new open market housing, excluding replacement dwellings, will only be supported when it is restricted to being used as a Principal Residence and not as a ‘second home’. A similar restriction which effectively bans any new second homes being built has previously been imposed in areas of North Devon and the South Hams.

The plan also says there will be a presumption against any built any development proposal within the ‘Green Wedges’, it calls for the protection of open spaces such as parks, the Byes, the Knowle, Connaught Gardens and the beach, appropriate developments should complement and protect our natural environment while improving the existing built environment in our town and villages in both scale and character, and that development should reinvigorate the Eastern End of Sidmouth around the Port Royal, to become a culturally vibrant centre for the community and visitors.

Other policies in the plan include the development of a safe pedestrian/cycle crossing over the A3052 between the Bowd and Woolbrook Junction to link with the planned Otter Trail and the development of a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists from Sidbury to Sidford, which will cross the tiger crossing in Sidford and link with the Byes.

The Sid Valley area, with a total population of 15,500, includes Sidmouth, Sidbury, Sidford and Salcombe Regis.

The date of the referendum, as agreed between East Devon District Council and Sidmouth Town Council, will be delayed until September to avoid the summer holiday period.

If more than 50 per cent of those who vote say ‘yes’ the Neighbourhood Plan will be made and will form part of the Development Plan for East Devon.