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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Knowle relocation project: or, putting the cart before the horse >>> Building starts on a new HQ in Honiton, but with nothing to cover the £10m+ cost

The Herald has just let us know that comments on the appeal over planning permission at Knowle are now available:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Appeal documents published this week reveal the continued strength of feeling against redevelopment plans for Knowle

It observes in its last paragraph that this 'deal' is very much connected to the District Council's plans to relocate:

The deal is worth £7.505million to EDDC, which is relocating to Exmouth and Honiton.

Knowle plans would create ‘elderly ghetto’ - Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Some would say building a new building without actually having the cash is rather reckless: indeed, the East Devon Watch blog notes a parallel case:

COUNCIL’S £1 MILLION OVERSPEND INVESTIGATED; OUR COUNCIL’S MULTIMILLION OVERSPEND ON NEW HQ NOT INVESTIGATED!

20 SEP 2017


OUR council has already spent nearly that much on its satellite HQ in Exmouth. The Honiton HQ was supposed to be cost neutral with the proceeds of the £7 Knowle sale to PegasusLife but latest estimates (some while ago and not adjusted for post-Brexit soaring costs) was around £10 million.

How come SWAP could do this in Herefordshire but not in East Devon. Or why KPMG – its new auditors – are not doing it now?

“A special investigation into how the costs of establishing a joint customer services hub in a refurbished building soared from £950,000 to more than £1.9m has found evidence that officers “knowingly disregarded council process and procedures”.


Council’s £1 million overspend investigated; our council’s multimillion overspend on new HQ not investigated! | East Devon Watch

Meanwhile, the District Council is forging ahead:


EDDC LAYS FOUNDATIONS FOR NEW HQ IN HONITON – BUT WHO IS PAYING?

23 SEP 2017

EDDC must be feeling VERY positive about the outcome of the PegasusLife Planning appeal as the sale of Knowle land, at around £7.1 million, is meant to contribute to the £10,361,000 cost (at last years costing – who knows what it is this year).

And does it include the £1m plus cost of Exmouth town hall?

Next year’s council tax deliberations will be interesting!


EDDC lays foundations for new HQ in Honiton – but who is paying? | East Devon Watch

With the full report in the Herald:

Building work begins on new district council HQ in Honiton

PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 September 2017

Callum Lawton




Proposed new headquarters for East Devon District Council.

Foundations have been laid and groundworks completed at the site in Heathpark Industrial Estate. Work has officially begun on East Devon District Council’s new Honiton headquarters.

Foundations have been laid and groundworks completed at the site in Heathpark Industrial Estate.

The council has earmarked December next year as the month for its staff to start working at the state-of-the-art HQ, which will house a new council chamber and meeting rooms.

The plans, which were approved in November last year, also included a cycle store, smoking shelter, staff car park and loading bay, with a provision for 135 car parking spaces and a pedestrian and cycle route from Exeter Road to the Heathpark estate.

The work is being carried out by contractors Interserve Construction Ltd, which says it is on schedule to finish the build in time.

Cllr Paul Diviani, leader of the East Devon District Council, gave his seal of approval after he viewed the construction site with deputy leader Cllr Phil Twiss.

Mr Diviani said: “As promised, we are delivering on our commitment to East Devon residents and businesses to provide a new headquarters in the heart of the district that will be cost effective, well designed and ensures the council is fit for the future.”

Earlier this year, the council decided that its relocation to Honiton could go ahead in the expectation of future sale of East Devon’s current office site at Knowle in Sidmouth, which is owned outright by the local authority.

Along with the construction work in Honiton, the council is currently investing in the modernisation of Exmouth Town Hall to provide future council services and the building is expected to reopen in November.

Once the move to Honiton is complete, the council will have a presence in its two largest towns, which it says will make its services ‘even more accessible’ to its residents.

The Honiton-based HQ is sited next to the council’s business centre, and will be contemporary in shape and balanced with more traditional elements of pitched roofs and brickwork.

Knowle’s sale and ultimate redevelopment will still take place in the future and the capital receipt will then be secured to part fund the relocation which will cost £10,361,000 in total.


Building work begins on new district council HQ in Honiton - Honiton, Axminster and Seaton news - Midweek Herald

And happy faces at the site:
22 September 2017 - Foundations in place for new East Devon District Council HQ in Honiton’s Heathpark - East Devon
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