Sunday, 10 April 2016

Knowle relocation project: deciding to sell >>>>>>>>>> >>> 'overage' and the dangers of selling Knowle short >>> one year on... and further reports

At last week's Cabinet, the relocation project was discussed:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: deciding to sell >>> 'overage' and the dangers of selling Knowle short >>> one year on

The Save Our Sidmouth blog has been reporting on the issues - before and after the meeting:
‘Major changes’ to Knowle proposals | Save Our Sidmouth
Relocation to be delayed, say EDDC | Save Our Sidmouth
As schedule for relocation slips, Cabinet asked “Is this project still ‘cost neutral’? “ | Save Our Sidmouth

As has the East Devon Watch blog:


8 APR 2016

True to form, EDDC’s relocation project is not going entirely smoothly.

Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting (6 April) showed cracks already appearing, which the Leadership seemed to merrily paper over.

Long-term Exmouth councillors’ criticism of the planned design of their Town Hall renovation was treated with apparent amusement by Leader Paul Diviani and Chief Officers, Mark Williams and Richard Cohen.

Steve Gazzard (Lib Dem) said the proposed design was not flexible enough, a view echoed by his Tory counterparts, who complained of the “inadequacy of the space to be provided”, and were unhappy that “ all the memorabilia” has had to be taken down. They were also shocked at the possible prospect of having to book, or pay rent , for use of the Council Chamber.

Richard Cohen agreed that “Memorabilia is an issue”, and acknowledged the need for “an organised booking system”, and for what he called “the odd gremlin to be ironed out”. But he had no response to an exasperated Cllr Pauline Stott (Con, Exmouth), whose question showed that rather more than gremlins are involved.

It was proving very difficult, she said, to find alternative premises for staff obliged to move out so the Exmouth Town Hall renovation work could be done. (Estimated time 8-10 months, at a cost of £1m) .“How are YOU getting on with finding somewhere to move out to? I’m wondering if you have found somewhere to move out to?” she repeated.

The proposals for the Honiton newbuild office were criticised, too, with Cllr Peter Faithfull (Ind, Ottery) finding them seemingly “small and cramped”. We have no measurements..of what we are getting”, he said.

And Cllr Jill Elson (Con, Exmouth) was astonished that there was no staff café included in the Heathpark designs. Once again, this was treated as a joke, with Cllr Philip Skinner interjecting that there was always the nearby burger bar!

And Leader Paul Diviani’s remark that they were not using “stellar architects” for the new building, added no reassurance for those anticipating sound investment for public money.

More on that last point coming soon..

Gremlins emerging in EDDC relocation plans | East Devon Watch

This is the latest from the Herald:

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

These are from the Minutes of the Cabinet meeting:

Relocation and Transformation update 

The Deputy Chief Executive advised on progress of the relocation plans. Now that the Council had moved from options consideration and was focused on the agreed twin site approach, the project was moving quickly. With the signing of a conditional contract with Pegasus Life and the commissioning of the design team, relocation had progressed Cabinet 6 April 2016 135 significantly. Staff were keen to see progress and this had become a more engaged process, as the design team moved through the phases of design from concept to detailed design. The Council was working to the Royal Institute of British Architecture approved design code process to manage the project. 

Officer and Executive Groups met monthly and there were regular meetings with the Design Team. SMT was also engaged on matters such as ICT, document management, team locations, operational issues, facilities and other corporate direction. The consultation process with residents had further informed the service provision around the move to the twin sites. 

The Deputy Chief Executive and officers would continue to work with tenants to minimise uncertainties and come up with a fair arrangement around new leases and licence agreements. 

Discussions included the following: 
 Where had the sale of the Knowle been advertised? The Deputy Chief Executive confirmed the agent Savills had advertised through journals, their development sector contacts as well as local newspapers.
 Was the £7m received for the Knowle value for money for East Devon residents? 
 Was there an overage clause in the contract to claim back money from excessive profits from the developers? The Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that the capital receipt offered for the Knowle was in line with the professional ‘Red Book’ valuation of the site. He confirmed that there was an overage clause within the Council’s conditional contract with the developer. 
 The need for actual measurements to be included in the plans for Exmouth Town Hall and Heathpark rather than 2D images. 
 A missed opportunity not to have a franchised cafe at Heathpark 
 Issues of the size of meeting rooms at Exmouth Town Hall 
 Exmouth Town Council needed flexibility when booking the Chamber 
 Other organisations based at Exmouth Town Hall were finding relocating to temporary premises an issue. 
 New ICT was being implemented over the next few months to pave the way for the move from the Knowle. The Deputy Chief Executive reassured members that he and officers were in close contact with Exmouth Town Council and town hall tenants, in order to address the detail of new leases, space arrangements and other matters relating to the impact of refurbishment and future use of the building. 

Councillor Eileen Wragg congratulated all officers involved for their considerable work in this project. 

RESOLVED: Knowle Site 
1. that it be noted that Pegasus Life Ltd, following public consultation exercises, will be submitting its application for development of the Knowle site. The projected likely date of consideration of the application is July 2016. 
2. that Sidmouth Town Council’s positive response to the Deputy Chief Executive’s formal proposal to transfer the remaining Knowle Park to Town Council ownership, together with a commuted sum and negotiations continue, be noted 

Honiton Heathpark 
3. that preparations underway by the design team to submit a planning application for new build Council offices at Heathpark, with a view to Planning Committee consideration in September 2016,be noted 
4. that the new HQ design moving from concept to detailed design of space allocations for desks, meeting spaces, storage, reception area, Chamber, member area, services and external works, be noted 
5. that construction planned to commence in November 2016 for a period of up to 12 months, followed by Client Fit Out Works with occupation of the new HQ targeted for February 2018, be noted 
6. that the Deputy Chief Executive again meeting with businesses and staff at the East Devon Business Centre to discuss and advise on project progress, be noted 

Exmouth Town Hall 
7. that the Deputy Chief Executive and design team meeting with tenants of Exmouth Town Hall to discuss their needs, concerns and expectations regarding the refurbishment of the building and its impact on their operations including any disruption or temporary displacement, be noted 
8. that the Council’sissue of Section 25 notices to end the tenancies of Town Hall tenants to be followed by negotiation of new tenancies, be noted 
9. that refurbishment planned to commence in Autumn 2016 and last between 8-10 months, followed by Client Fit Out Works, be noted. 


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