Sunday, 8 February 2015

Knowle relocation project: Legal notice for 'Disposal' and 'Appropriation' of Open Space: further information

The EDDC legal notices for the 'disposal' and 'appropriation' of land at Knowle appeared again in the Herald over the weekend:

Home - Sidmouth Herald

There has been considerable reaction to this so far:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Legal notice for 'Disposal' and 'Appropriation' of Open Space: Deadline for comments >>> Friday 20th February

The Deputy CEO of the District Council has provided some more information - but not very much:

Richard Cohen on the marketing of Knowle and related issues

February 5, 2015 by sidmouthsid

Despite constant challenges from all over the District (EDDC’s planned move from Knowle is not just a Sidmouth NIMBY matter),the Head of the Office Relocation Project, Richard Cohen, seems to be blindly heading for disaster.
Some very recent examples of critics from other areas are in a letter in today’s Exmouth Journal, and in reports from January’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. (See http://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/02/05/a-moving-plea-to-eddc-dont-move/ and http://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/01/23/quite-honestly-we-have-fallen-flat-on-our-face-with-the-relocation-project-warns-honiton-councillor-peter-halse/)

Here is the e-mail from Mr Cohen, received today (05/02/2015) by Chair of Save Our Sidmouth:

‘Mr Thurlow

In response to your recent e-mails:

Knowle/Manstone Marketing -The marketing of Knowle and Manstone that Savills conducted on the Council’s behalf was an exercise that adopted an open approach. Interested developers were at liberty to propose removal or retention of existing structures. The marketing brochure went as far as to describe some of the internal features of the building alongside a range of other information.

Disposal of Public Space – The advertisement in the Sidmouth Herald is a matter of compliance with the Local Government Act 1972 legislative requirements. It covers a number of spaces within the identified development boundary but it does not automatically follow that these areas are public open space to which policy RE1 applies.

Planning Statement – Our planning consultant offered detailed advice that considered both the current Local Plan (including Policy RE1) and the site allocation within the draft Local Plan. These are matters that will be considered as part of the planning process, and the issues you raise will form part of that, to the extent it is appropriate to do so.

Future Running Cost Predictions – In line with work ongoing with our auditors to test modelling and assumptions, we will be using DECC’s future energy cost scenarios as an element within our general running cost calculations. These will be modelled and reported back to the Council in a future relocation report.

Richard Cohen
Deputy Chief Executive
East Devon District Council’

Richard Cohen on the marketing of Knowle and related issues | Save Our Sidmouth

Questions remain as to who will make the decision about 'appropriation':

Who will decide the Disposal / Appropriation of Open Space at the Knowle?

February 8, 2015 by sidmouthsid 2 Comments

A communication was received by Chair of Save Our Sidmouth on 6th February 2015, as follows:

‘Dear Mr Thurlow,

I am responding to your call to the legal team of 5th February in respect of the above. I set out below the process for dealing with the appropriation and disposal of land.

The deadline for receipt of comments is 20th February. Once that date passes the responses will firstly be read by the legal team and then reviewed by officers working on the relocation project. Those comments will then be considered as part of a report to be presented to Cabinet and then Council on the appropriation of land and disposal of the Knowle. Depending on the number of comments we receive they will either be appended to the committee papers or summarised within. The decision whether to appropriate and dispose of land (including the identified open space) will be made by Members.

I can’t say what weight will be attached to the comments from the public, as that is a matter for the decision maker. However the comments will be taken into account in formulating any recommendation and when Members make their decision.

I hope that this is of assistance.

Yours sincerely,
Principal Solicitor
East Devon District Council’

Three weeks' notice of change of use of Open Space at Knowle: Deadline for objections 20th February 2015.In "East Devon Alliance"
Fact File on Knowle Plan, and Land to be appropriated. REMINDER: Deadline for objections, 20th Feb 2015In "East Devon Alliance"
Re. Inspector's conclusion that Knowle is a 'public open space'In "East Devon Issues"


Mike Temple
February 8, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Surely “officers working on the relocation project” have a vested interest in appropriating this p.o.s.

February 8, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Where’s the transparency? 
Who has decided on this land grab attempt? 
Who will decide the outcome? 
Who on the council (elected members and paid employees) gives a toss for the electorate? 
Why is there no explanation at all why this land grab has been attempted? 
Why is there no communication from the leader of the council? 
Why has there been no progress on the local plan? 
Why has there been a stunning silence from the Sidmouth EDDC councillors during most of the relocation debacle? 
Why has there been no scrutiny of the money spent and paid officials’ time employed on the relocation project? 
Why is it extremely difficult to obtain the details of this matter on line? 
What is the definition of “cost neutral” in the context of the move? 
Why has the term “cost neutral” now been dropped in favour of a more vague mention of the move not costing us more over a vast number of years as long as energy costs rocket to unexpected (that is unexpected by everyone except the EDDC officer employed to produce these figures) levels? 
Why do we elect them? 
Will we continue to elect them?

Who will decide the Disposal / Appropriation of Open Space at the Knowle? | Save Our Sidmouth
Fact File on Knowle Plan, and Land to be appropriated. REMINDER: Deadline for objections, 20th Feb 2015 | Save Our Sidmouth

The Chamber of Commerce has urged its members to write in to the legal department:

The locals are revolting! 
Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce opposes EDDC land grab

Friday, 6 February 2015

Oh dear, oh dear! Not only are the residents revolting but we also have the Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce wading into the fray!

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce’s Secretary has recently written to all of its members encouraging them to submit comments to East Devon District Council on its latest shenanigans, the land grab at the Knowle. Helpfully Silvia Brownlee attaches not only the information that Save our Sidmouth (SOS) has circulated about the land grab, but also provides a pdf document that shows the scale of the land grab.

Both Silvia’s letter, which includes SOS’s comments, and access to the pdf are posted below.

As each day comes, so do more and more individuals and groups who are railing against the arrogance of East Devon District Council’s rulingConservative Group’s activities.

It’s time for change! It’s time for challenge!

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce letter -


Dear Member,

Richard Thurlow, Chair of SOS has written a very precise and comprehensive explanation of the present situation regarding Knowle which follows. We should all comment on these proposals to EDDC, please do so direct to their Legal Department before 20th February using the reference at the foot.

The Chair of Save Our Sidmouth (SOS), Richard Thurlow, writes on 4 February 2015 ...

You may be aware that EDDC published two notices in the Herald last week, giving notice that they intend to appropriate land for housing, under sections 122 and 123 of the Local Government Act of 1972.

The land to be so appropriated, (the total area of land they say they need for development). includes 0.6ha of Public Open Space, (POS). The plan, which I have included above, shows the POS, note that the remainder of the land, (actually the "hard" area, of buildings and roads), are not shown, but I include a pdf which shows the total land which EDDC are appropriating. http://sites.google.com/site/realzorro1/land_to_be_appropriated_by_eddc.pdf

Comments on these proposals have to be with EDDC Legal department by 20th February 2015, ref OFF.1-0014/HGL...

Sylvia Brownlee
Secretary, Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce

The Streetlife social network has been abuzz:

Land grab at the Knowle

Local Conversations in Sidmouth
Pining Lass 
I noticed this on Save Our Sidmouth

and went to check it up at the Herald.

They want to 'appropriate land' to use as part of the housing development. This land is currently designated as open space. Surely this was all sorted out with the planning application? They were told that open space had to be kept as that so now they are trying to give it a different designation and hoping no-one will notice.

It is not listed under planning on the EDDC site and the site search returns nothing for the ref given in the Herald. It says that objections must be made to the Legal Department but I can't find anything about that on the site either.

More tricks and 'abuse of the system'.
Barnacle Bill
Yeah - this planning malarky is open to all sorts of abuse.

Are there not relevant notices pinned to trees or something up there?

The sooner they bugger off to Honiton the better!
Barnacle Bill
Oh I'll be doing that alright Jackie G - there is a feeling of sea-change around now and I genuinely think it is time to put these arrogant Tories (MPs and Councilors) out to grass for a while. 
Pining Lass
Save our Sidmouth have now got details of the land which EDDC wants to relabel.

It makes you wonder all sorts of things like,
1) how did they come to include this land in their planning application last year if it is designated open space?
2) if this is open space then presumably they built the car parks on open space, was this made clear in the planning applications for the car parks?
3) if the 'grass' car park was done like that as it is open space then how can it now be considered 'brown site' and free to be built on?
4) as it was established last year that Sidmouth is not over provided with open space how do they justify land grabbing the upper terraces of the formal gardens on the south?
5) if open space is supposed to give protection against high density building and allow wildlife corridors then how do they justify removing it along boundaries with houses on Knowle Drive?
5) how far are they willing to go in wrecking a place which is important to Sidmouth and wildlife (most importantly for me, rare bats ) in order to pursue a vanity project which hasn't been properly costed?

I urge you all to read the stuff on SOS and to write to the EDDC. Once this land is appropriated it is gone forever, there is no going back.
Pining Lass
I attach a pic of the land grap document.

I am very confused as to why they think the area to the south west which is not attached to any other land to be sold, and is where the burrows, are is included on this. It would be impossible for this to be built on without heavy equipment wrecking all the lawns around it. It would also mean, I think, that all the area of the gardens would have to be closed to the public while work went on.
This is a diabolical attempt by EDDC to grab open space belonging to Sidmouth in order to sell it for a profit. The land was given to Sidmouth and morally belongs to the people of Sidmouth and Diviani should not be able to sell it to fund his preposterous ego boost, especially as it's likely that EDDC will not exist in a few years - certainly not in it's present form after May I hope.
Pining Lass
I've been trying to overlay this map on a map of the land the EDDC have put up for sale but they don't fit!!!

One or both of the maps must be distorted as I have even used the envelope tool on my drawing programme without much success; but I will not give up :-)

What it does show is that they want to land grab about 50% more than they can currently legally dispose of. If they had offered it for sale with only the land which is theirs I doubt there would have been any takers.

I'll post the combined drawing as soon as I get it close enough to be worth it.

Streetlife | Land grab at the Knowle

In fact, there were indications of the District Council's intentions last year - if not before:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "The great garden grab"

These accord with the maps provided by the agents marketing the sale of Knowle:
Knowle: Exceptional redevelopment opportunity within the popular coastal town of Sidmouth

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