THE threat of a potential employment site at Sidford has knocked tens of thousands of pounds off the market value of a nearby pensioner’s house.

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Widow Truda Ward, whose Sidvale Close property backs onto the controversial site, wrote to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities, explaining her plight and asking him to clarify his position.

Mrs Ward, 74, and her late husband David tried to sell their house four years ago to move to a smaller bungalow, but were unable to go ahead when he was taken ill.

Now a widow trying to remain independent of state benefits, Mrs Ward is once again trying to sell her house, but says prospective buyers back off when they learn of the proposed development.

She wrote: “I have had several people interested in purchasing but refuse to do so on the basis of the potential industrial development immediately behind the property.”

Mrs Ward is trying to release capital to subsidise her pension and take the burden off the state, but that a plummeting house price would defeat the object.

The 74-year-old added: “The value of my house will be many tens of thousands of pounds less if the outlook is onto an industrial estate than it is at present overlooking the [Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty].”

She said the same will be true of her neighbours, who are also retired, and that they do not have the finances to fight the developers for compensation.

Town councillor for Sidford Graham Troman said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if £40,000 was knocked off the price.

“I’m concerned that councillors and residents aren’t being told what’s happening.”

Heather Short from the estate agency Red Homes said: “Uncertainty is what affects people selling or buying.

“They need to group together to get answers - their lives are on hold.”

East Devon District Council (EDDC) leader Paul Diviani told the Herald last month that Mr Pickles and Prime Minister David Cameron would not interfere in his council’s long-term plans for the Sid Valley.

Mrs Ward told Mr Pickles that the proposed 12-acre industrial estate in Sidford was unnecessary as there is already a site in Honiton and the potential for development in the new town of Cranbrook.

“We stand to lose out financially for no other reason than the commercial gain of greedy local businesses who care not what they do to our beautiful town and the surrounding countryside,” she wrote.

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