THE planning application for continued use of land off Sidmouth Road, just outside Lyme Regis, as a park and ride has been rejected by East Devon District Council.
Lyme Regis Town Council submitted the application for temporary use of the site, which lies just across the county border in Uplyme, in March. East Devon District Council has now refused the plans, on the basis of lack of evidence submitted with the application to justify the need for the facility, and that as a result it would have a harmful impact upon the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Both Uplyme Parish Council and Uplyme’s district councillor Ian Thomas opposed the application, resulting in an acrimonious dispute between Uplyme and Lyme councils.
A statement from the district council said: “East Devon’s planning department had previously granted temporary consents for a park and ride use to support businesses in Lyme Regis and visitors to the town, but despite ample time being given to Lyme Regis Town Council to justify the park and ride’s continued use, the required information has not been received.
“Since 2014, the district’s planning authority has consistently asked Lyme Regis Town Council to gather evidence to justify the need for a park and ride in this location. Despite the town council having four years in which to do this, the work has still not been carried out.
“In addition, East Devon is not convinced that the proposed site is the best location for a park and ride facility, or that a further park and ride site is required, given that the majority of the traffic does not enter the town from the west on the A3052 where the site is located, and that the park and ride on Charmouth Road, to the east of Lyme Regis, has very recently been granted planning permission to operate 400 spaces over a longer seasonal period.
“East Devon is happy to entertain a future planning application for the site, but it needs to be supported by justification for the use of the site. In addition, robust evidence of the need for the facility and justification that the proposed site is the most appropriate location to serve visitors to the town must be provided.”
Councillor Ian Thomas, leader of East Devon District Council and ward member for Trinity, which includes Uplyme, said: “East Devon planners, Uplyme Parish Council and I have worked for several years, in the interest of Lyme Regis traders, residents and visitors, in what has become a uniquely frustrating process.
“Last summer, contrary to planning guidelines, I was able to secure a further last minute temporary consent.
I was only able to do so ‘….to allow the newly formed working group, including representatives from Devon and Dorset County Councils, East Devon and West Dorset District Councils. Lyme Regis Town Council and Uplyme Parish Council, to use such information in the development of a strategic approach to the management of traffic and parking requirements…’
“Sadly, this group has never met. It is disappointing that another planning application (validated on 19 March 2018) was submitted by Lyme Regis Town Council, seeking further temporary consent from 30 March 2018. The application is essentially a copy of that submitted in 2017, so it again neither offers supporting evidence requested following the 2014 application, nor demonstrates any significant progress in that direction.
“This lack of progress makes it impossible for me to intervene again on the grounds I used in 2017.
“Despite several instances of ‘factual inaccuracy’ by the applicant, I commend both East Devon planners and Uplyme Parish Council on their rigorous adherence to dealing professionally with each successive application, according to planning policy and guidelines.
“Notwithstanding difficulties experienced to date, I am confident that East Devon District Council, Uplyme Parish Council, other local authority neighbours and I, remain willing to work with Lyme Regis Town Council to develop the best possible long-term solution to the management of traffic and associated parking requirements in and around Lyme Regis and Uplyme.”
Lyme Regis Town Council has announced that it will be spending £25,000 on a traffic survey to be carried out this summer to support the park and ride and help solve traffic congestion issues.