Friday, 19 July 2013

Alternatives for Knowle

On Wednesday this week, the EDDC Office Accommodation report was presented to Cabinet:
EDDC Office Accommodation report 

Cabinet voted to relocate to Honiton or Cranbrook:
EDDC revives plans to leave Sidmouth - News - Sidmouth Herald

Very few 'alternatives' were considered, despite suggestions from members of the public:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - EDDC cabinet votes to move from Knowle
BYE BYE Sidmouth! | Sidmouth Independent News

However, following the postings on this blog
Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon
Futures Forum: "A truly green alternative to EDDC's proposal"
a considerable number of 'alternative' proposals and observations have been forthcoming:

> Figures for refurbishing the Victorian Knowle:
The EDDC Office Accommodation report shows a figure of £15m to refurbish the 7722mwhich works out at £1968 per m2 (page 59).
However the District Council's own figure for new build is £2052 per m2 (page 97). 
Refurbishment can be calculated at one third of new build cost – a third of £2052/m2 is £683/m2. This would reduce the £15m to £5.3m for the entire 7722m2.
If, however, their new build proposal is for 3352m2 (page 98) they could manage with the same space at the Knowle. This would bring the refurbishment down to £2.3m.

> The District Council's consultants have said that "Refurbishing its existing base at Knowle would cost millions of pounds more than relocating to purpose-built premises": Cost of relocating cheaper than staying put - News - Sidmouth Herald

> Knowle has not been given listing status by English Heritage and there remains very little of the original which is worth saving, although the footpring and mass of the building are not sacrosanct:
East Devon District Council - Moving and Improving FAQ 
‘Knowle is NOT a national gem’ - English Heritage - News - Sidmouth Herald 
And so the gardens and car-parks have been "saved" and cannot be encroached upon: 
Proposed Minor Changes to Local Plan 
The Council Chamber, Members' Lounge, the Committee Room and perhaps the original interior staircase should be retained along with the 1970s building.  
The Victorian part could be demolished and a new block, a little bigger, put in its place, increasing the dimensions of the building and so rationalising the usage and design to create much more building area.

> The District Council is entitled to move and entitled to demolish Knowle: if relocation is viable, if the benefits to the taxpayer are maximised and if the design is worthy, then there are no grounds for objection - but this is unlikely under the current climate. 

> Cllr Peter Halse, senior member of the ruling party and former Chair of the District Council, has stated publicly that he is against the relocation plans: he has said there is no interest in this amongst the people of East Devon, he saw Knowle as a "prestigious building", he felt "proud to bring people to Sidmouth", and argued that "it is not necessary to do much at all" in terms of ambitious plans to relocate.
EDDC revives plans to leave Sidmouth - News - Sidmouth Herald 

> Conversion is very difficult and expensive to carry out.
New-build is worth much more than conversions on the open market, so the sale value is also much more attractive to developers.
If the District Council granted itself planning permission for a conversion, rather than a demolition, any purchaser could simply re-apply and, following appeal, make a profit at taxpayers' expense. 

The reference to 50 years' payback on carbon for new-build

>There is no mention of the embodied and annual carbon emissions of the 50 homes proposed for the site at Knowle.

>What about the extra employment accommodation required to compensate for the loss of 400+ plus jobs at the Knowle and Manstone?

> With over 60% of population south of the A3052 (and poor public transport), the additional car journeys undertaken by visitors and staff to a location which is much further from the centre of East Devon’s population than Sidmouth means increased travel CO2 emissions.
East Devon’s population, despite Cranbrook, will always be concentrated on the coast.

> Improvements in energy management and a retro fit of the office block with solar roofs will reduce running costs and CO2 footprint figures considerably.

> Embodied carbon is the main issue with any new build because, whilst expensive to upgrade an existing building, certainly to Passiv Haus standard, in most cases, the energy efficiency savings will still outperform the huge costs of newbuild.

> The District Council, whilst looking for smaller premises, makes no reference to the number of people who can work from home for the majority of time using modern communication technologies. They would "hotdesk" at work at other times, so saving huge amounts of resources and energy, time and money.
Devon County Council has  stated "It wants to reduce the amount of floorspace it needs by 35%...No employees would lose their jobs, but they would have to share desks, as well as work from non‐council properties and from home,the authority said." 
BBC News - Devon County Council plans to sell buildings

>  Comparison of costs of running Knowle and new building:
This makes no sense unless the cost of updating parts of Knowle are taken into account... eg: the relatively small cost of insulation, a new boiler, are rooms heated above the recommended temperatures?  
Lighting experts and engineers for decades have provided for excessive and unnecessary lighting... eg: the huge number of lights in the evening in and around buildings.

> Micro climates are often found in Devon
Honiton is usually colder than Sidmouth: compare the length of time the snow remained in Honiton last year as compared with Sidmouth.  A slight difference in average temperature could make a big difference to District Council figures for heating costs.  
There is also the problem of getting to work in bad weather. Late last January the main road from Sidbury to Honiton was closed for several days due to snow and frost.

> Whilst District Council Leader Cllr Diviani claimed on the BBC on the morning of 17th July that relocation costs had amounted to £250,000, in December 2012 he stated that £350,000 had been spent on costs. 
The question remains as to how much has been spent since December?

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