Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Knowle relocation project: Wednesday 17th December: 6.30pm: full council to consider resolutions and recommendations passed by cabinet

Looking to tonight's full council meeting where the Knowle relocation project is to be debated:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "to be put on hold" .........? District Council meets Wednesday 17th December

The full council is to debate the resolutions/recommendations passed by cabinet:

These are from the Minutes of the meeting of Cabinet ... 3 December 2014 

that the office relocation project progress, following the previous update report of 4 June 2014, be noted

1. that the emerging changes to the relocation project be recognised and the following be agreed:
a. The marketing exercise for Knowle and Manstone has resulted in a range of offers and, following a detailed assessment process, price, form and quality of development propositions have been received that merit further detailed negotiation towards selection of a preferred developer.
b. Leading offers for Knowle do not include options to sell Manstone in which case EDDC can choose to retain Manstone for the foreseeable future as a depot function and continued employment use.
c. The reduced offer for EDDC’s Heathpark site no longer represents a sufficiently persuasive level of capital receipt and will not be pursued further.
d. The retention of Heathpark in EDDC ownership means that this now represents the most cost effective and straightforward location to develop a new
headquarters building for the Council.
e. Relocation to Skypark is no longer a viable proposition based on the reduced
offer for Heathpark and combination of Knowle market value and prudential borrowing.
f. The East Devon Business Centre (EDBC) should preferably be retained and could potentially be combined within a new EDDC HQ development.
g. In the interim, Exmouth Town Hall has been vacated by Devon County.
h. A new HQ in Honiton can be restricted in size and cost to a 170 desk equivalent scale with an improved Exmouth Town Hall for 80 EDDC staff as a main satellite office in the district’s largest community.
i. As part of its commitment to more mobile working and accessibility, the Council will offer a service presence as customers require in future at locations elsewhere in the district.
j. That relocation continues to make financial and operational sense on a whole life cost basis, specifically 20 year projections combining capital receipt and repayment of prudential borrowing versus existing office running cost and unfunded expenditure on existing building repair, maintenance and improvement.
2. that the Deputy Chief Executive, in consultation with the Office Accommodation Executive Group, be authorised to take forward further actions in pursuit of the above recommendations and Project Plan,
3. that further reports be produced for Cabinet and Council on project progress and to seek formal approval for any disposal of Knowle.

To advise on project progress, in particular the outcome of Knowle and Manstone site marketing and significant changes to relocation site preferences. To seek agreement to further progress the project and commit to report back to Cabinet and Council. 

Cabinet minutes for 3 December 2014 - East Devon District Council

see also:

Cabinet minutes for 4 June 2014 - East Devon District Council
Cabinet minutes for 4 June 2014 - Office relocation update - East Devon District Council

Much of the debate is around the 'figures':

These are from the Minutes of a Meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee ... 16 October 2014

Office relocation update

Richard Eley, a local resident, outlined his concerns about the complexity of the relocation project and his estimate on the final cost of the project being double the amount of the build cost of a new office. He stressed the importance of a robust procedure and that the project must be open to scrutiny, as well as the ability to reassess the value and viability of the project. Following the Scottish referendum, he questioned the logic of pursuing relocation when the future of district councils was in doubt with local government reforms pending, and the significant depreciation in his opinion of any new office building. 

In response to Mr Eley and the public speaking earlier in the meeting, the Deputy Chief Executive, Mr Richard Cohen, outlined:
> Assessment of the sale of the “hotel” part of the existing offices had been made and the conclusion reached that: the remaining office space was insufficient for the council to run its business; the chamber would be lost, which is required for the holding of council meetings; close proximity of council premises to a redeveloped hotel section would impact significantly on any sum offered by a developer.
> Mr Eley’s calculations were not recognised and members were reminded of
confidential reports and figures presented to them at past meetings under Part B conditions. The Council had already agreed a series of recommendations in
February 2014.
> Capital receipts for the assets of the Knowle and Manstone depot would not be known until the results of the marketing exercise had been completed.
> Process of local government reform had been ongoing for over 40 years and the council should not use present uncertainties as a reason to fail to act on the current needs of the council. 

Overview and Scrutiny Committee minutes for 16 October 2014 - East Devon District Council
Overview and Scrutiny Committee minutes for 16 October 2014 - Office relocation update - East Devon District Council

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