Friday, 9 December 2016

Knowle relocation project: of devolution and rising costs

The leaders of Exeter, Plymouth and Torbay met today to discuss a proposal for a combined South Devon ‘super-authority’, with an elected mayor:
Futures Forum: The increasing confusion of choices for devolution >>> Heart of the South West LEP..... or: Greater South West..... or: Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board............. or: An Exeter/Plymouth/Torbay supermayor

Will this include Greater Exeter - including East Devon's Growth Point?
Exeter and East Devon Growth Point

There are all sorts of exciting things happening there:
Enterprise Zone plan a ‘win-win’ for business in East Devon - View News
Devon councils back enterprise zone - LocalGov.co.uk - Your authority on UK local government
Business rates cut to lure firms to Exeter & East Devon Enterprise Zone | Exeter Express and Echo

With news of a super site (but not with exactly super salaries):
Lidl's huge new depot near Exeter is taking shape - PHOTOS | Exeter Express and Echo

And what of the eastern end of the District, including Sidmouth?

One option might be the proposed East Devon and Dorset National Park along the Jurassic Coast:
Dorset and East Devon National Park Team – Securing National Park designation for our internationally important environment and our local communities

All of which questions the whole point of the Knowle relocation project:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the promise of 'hubs' and putting the cart before the horse

Meanwhile, the District Council has approved the building of its new HQ at Honiton:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: District Council planning application for Honiton HQ >>> 16/1292/MFUL approved >>> reports

It is also spending money on Exmouth Town Hall:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and questions of floor space

And yet it hasn't managed to sell its Knowle site to raise the necessary funds to pay for Honiton and Exmouth:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: planning application REFUSED by District Council >>> the speeches

Interestingly, there has been no 'news' from the District Council on their planning committee's decision to reject the planning application at Knowle:
News - East Devon

The cabinet will be considering where to go next, on Wednesday - and has just published Item 14, which had been taken off the agenda:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and granting oneself planning permission

The report is entitled 'Exmouth' but includes the whole relocation project:

There are several cost issues raised:

Why refurbish Exmouth Town Hall if they have cannot commit to use it?

Why incur a debt which may not be covered by Knowle sale receipts in these times of austerity? 

And why take on a loan for FORTY YEARS?  This is not a loan for constructing an extension which might last 40 years, it is a loan for refurbishment which might last 10-15 years. 

Which means that 'cost neutral' now means the same as a £2.2m net loss.

See also:
Moving and Improving: all you need to know about the office relocation - Project timeline - key dates - East Devon

Costs of Knowle Relocation Project - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

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