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Bid to calm fears over showmen development

By This is Devon  |  Posted: March 09, 2011

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THE owner of a site for travelling showmen on the outskirts of the city has told nearby residents they have nothing to fear from the development.

Planning permission for a permanent site for the Guild of Showmen at Clyst St Mary was granted last year.

Residents at the Winslade Park estate, which is opposite the site, fought a lengthy battle against the proposal. The land will accommodate nine families, fairground equipment and caravans, and work is underway.

The community moved on to the site just before Christmas and residents have again voiced their concerns, including the site being "unsightly" as well as the impact on traffic on the busy A376.

But 56-year-old showman Robert Kefford, who helped put the proposals together for a permanent spot for the 150-year-old fair business, Anderton and Rowlands, has tried to put nearby residents' minds at rest.

"We're not here to cause problems," he said. "Our business is to make people smile and you can't do that if you upset people.

"We've been looking for a suitable permanent site for 13 years. We looked and looked for other sites, but there wasn't anything with the right access. This is the only suitable site.

"We wrote letters to 72 parish councils as well as landowners and farmers and only had one offer, but the access wasn't right."

He added: "We had a meeting with residents and listened to what they had to say.

"And we spent a fortune on surveys. We've done everything by the book and are allowed to be here.

"There will be considerable landscaping and planting so you won't be able to see the caravans and the small amount of fairground equipment. It won't be an eyesore when it's finished, you'll only be able to see the entrance."

Nearby resident, Roger Lloyd, 60, said: "So far they haven't had any effect on the residents.

"I think the biggest annoyance was that it was seemed to be an absolute done deal with East Devon District Council.

"As I understand it, the first anyone knew about the site was two weeks before the planning was approved by EDDC.

"The general feeling here is that people are against it because it's an unsuitable place. It's a flood plain and the previous owners of the land had a planning application for a bungalow rejected, but they're allowing people to live there now.

"You don't want to be nimbyish but it's in totally the wrong place. The highways consultants came up with some bizarre reasons why they allowed a busy entrance on a duel carriage way."

Another resident who did not want to be named, said: "They seem to have moved in en masse without the necessary work having been done.

"It seems the rest of us wouldn't be allowed to do this – to run a business we're expected to rent a business unit at a recognised industrial site."

Another resident said: "We fear the site might affect the value of the properties in the area."

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