On 24th April, Uplyme Parish Councillors Peter Whiting, Andrew Turner, John Garland, Paulene Frost and David Ostler attended the public meeting at the Woodmead Halls in Lyme Regis regarding a proposed development of some 350 houses on 17.8 hectares of land between Shire Lane and Gore Lane on the A3052.

Councillors were disappointed that such skimpy and short notice had been given, and wondered why the meeting wasn’t held in Uplyme despite previous contact from the Chairman, and also about the reason for the undue haste before local plans demonstrating housing need were in force.

Cllr Whiting said “Despite the development being wholly within the parish of Uplyme, there was scant mention of the name on the display boards, the wording being very much geared towards Lyme Regis: the development being ‘on Sidmouth Road, Lyme Regis’.”

“We, and members of the public, were very concerned that so little attention seems to have been focused on where all these new households would work, send their children to school, park in Lyme, or receive medical attention – or will they largely be holiday and second homes? “

“Although the presentation said a transport study had been completed and estimated the number of extra traffic movements at 170 or so per day, Hallam Land Management, the development company, confirmed that this statement was incorrect, and no such study had yet been completed or was available for inspection, which calls into question the accuracy of other statements in the proposal. For example, Gore Lane is already used as a rat run despite being a steep single-track lane with passing places, and even this low number of extra journeys is problematic. Our other concerns include the infrequent public transport and dangerous route without a pavement for over 500m into Lyme, whether or not utilities such as gas would be available to the development, and how their installation would disrupt local traffic. ‘Sustainability’ is a hot topic in development circles, but doesn’t seem to have been paid much attention in this exercise.”

“We were somewhat perplexed at the site maps which apparently show nowhere near the 350 houses mentioned. As our District Councillor, Ian Thomas, pointed out, the proposed housing density is more appropriate for an urban development, rather than one situated in an environmentally sensitive rural area. Work by both EDDC and WDDC to justify housing need in the area has not been concluded to say that so many houses are appropriate. Estimates of the proportion of affordable housing also seemed to vary from 25% to 40% according to whom you spoke.”

Residents of Lyme Regis present were worried that any affordable housing, and all the section 106 benefits and council tax, would go outside the town under current arrangements. Uplyme councillors suspect that a boundary change would eventually be requested if the development goes ahead, and once a precedent had been set, what was to prevent further urbanisation to the west?

The proposed site is a prominent one on the skyline of the East Devon AONB, and because the site was very visible from the west, the company’s landscape architect admitted that it would need ‘some landscaping’. A wag in the crowd suggested a mountain would suffice! Cllr Whiting finishes by saying “Tim Hoskinson from Savills was aware that the proposed site was located in an AONB, but considered that ‘this protection was nowhere near as strong as it used to be’.”

You can read the developer’s statement here, and also see a copy of the display boards put up at the meeting. Uplyme is mentioned exactly twice, in small letters!