There were concerns 40 years ago about the 'over-spend' on new District Council offices.
In 1968 during initial negotiations:
And in 1974 after the purchase of the Knowle site had been made:
This is of course always the issue when it comes to capital projects, it being very difficult to give a precise quote on any building work to be done.
Whilst, 40 years on in 2013, no estimate for the new District Council offices is provided in the 'Design and Build Costs' section of the latest proposals:
EDDC Office Accommodation report (page 51)
Within the consultants Davis Langdon section, under 'Financial Viability: Costs' (page 19/97) the figures £7,865,236 (equivalent to £ 2,346 / m2) and £ 6,878,977 (equivalent to £ 2,052 / m2) are presented, depending on quality of new-build.
During the last period of 'austerity' in the mid-1970s, warnings were made that the new HQ would involve a '25% increase' in cost:
Looking at today's proposals for Knowle, later in the Davis Langdon section (page 102), there is a definition of what would make any project for new offices 'affordable' or not:
"The Option is not affordable based upon the sale of identified land assets plus additional Funding of up to £4,800,000 inclusive of interest charges, borrowed over a twenty year period. The Option would cost more than the £4,800,00 threshold, and therefore would be in excess of the existing budget. It could therefore potentially result in an increase of Council Tax or a reduction in services."
a) the savings on energy efficiency over a 20-year period (compared to remaining in the current buildings in their current state, according to Davis Langdon's own figures) prove to be more than the calculated £4.8m;
b) the disposal of the current site at Knowle (and Manstone - see from page 44) not raise the expected finance;
c) the costs of constructing a completely new building in Honiton or Cranbrook prove substantially more than these initial estimates...
Then the relocation project would, as defined through these parameters, prove 'un-viable' and 'un-affordable'.
Lastly, when the District Council were in negotiations over their new headquarters 45 years ago, there were claims that 'the discussion was held behind closed doors because publicity would have been prejudicial to the townspeople's interests.'
Could one draw parallels between the Sidmouth Rate Payers' Association of 1968 and the Save Our Sidmouth campaign of 2013, over the question of whether 'anybody could give some hard facts'...?