Sunday, 11 February 2018

Knowle relocation project: "it’s time for Sidmouth to embrace the changes that are coming"

Apparently things are going to get better for Sidmouth once the District Council relocates:

East Devon District Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Williams, added: “The Inspector accepted the many benefits that will come to Sidmouth as a result of the proposals put forward by Pegasus and it is clear that the site will be well looked after in their hands.”

23 January 2018 - Planning inspector gives go ahead for PegasusLife development of council’s Sidmouth HQ - East Devon
Planning Inspectorate overrules EDDC on Knowle retirement homes | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald
'Sad day for Sidmouth' as East Devon HQ retirement community plans approved - Devon Live
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: BREAKING NEWS >>> PegasusLife appeal allowed > latest reports

Unfortunately, among the 'benefits that will not come to Sidmouth' will be...

> affordable housing:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife pleading poverty: "specialists in development viability have confirmed that the development cannot afford to meet the council’s policy requirements for affordable housing"

> and CIL, or the Community Infrastructure Levy:
“Knowle relocation project: full Pegasus contract published” | East Devon Watch
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: full Pegasus contract published

Sidmouth just needs to get over it:

'New chapter for Sidmouth and there is life after the Knowle' as council pushes ahead with relocation plans

Cllr Phil Twiss has said the council can now fully forge ahead with its plans to move from the Knowle to Honiton that should be complete by the end of the year.

Daniel Clark 11:09, 1 FEB 2018

East Devon Conservatives say that they hope ‘Sidmouth can look forward to a new chapter’ and there is life after the Knowle after a planning inspector allowed an appeal East Devon District Council’s current headquarters to be turned into a 113-apartment assisted-living community.

Planning inspector Michael Boniface last month allowed Pegasus Life’s plans for a 113-apartment assisted-living community for older people after the plans were initially turned down by the council’s own development management committee.

The council is relocating from its current headquarters at the Knowle in Sidmouth to new offices in Honiton and Exmouth – and the move will be financed by selling the Knowle to Pegasus Life Ltd for £7.5million.

East Devon District Council HQ in Knowle.

Sidmouth councillor and East Devon Alliance leader Cllr Cathy Gardner had said that it was a sad day for Sidmouth.

'Sad day for Sidmouth' as East Devon HQ retirement community plans approved

But EDDC Deputy Leader Cllr Phil Twiss has welcomed the decision and said that it now allows the council to fully forge ahead with its plans to move from the Knowle to Honiton that should be complete by the end of the year.

Cllr Twiss said: “The new development and the facilities it provides will bring something very special to Sidmouth that will greatly benefit the town.

“But the funds we receive for the land at Knowle will be reinvested in our new offices at Honiton, which are part of a £10 million project to upgrade the services we provide for our customers across East Devon – so the whole district will gain; it’s a win/win”.

Artist impression of the new East Devon District Council HQ in Honiton

EDDC’s new state-of-the-art headquarters building, currently taking shape in Honiton, is one of two sites where council staff will in future provide on-the-spot services for customers.

Following the £1.5 million upgrade of Exmouth Town Hall, completed in November, Housing and Benefits teams now occupy desks at the Town Hall, while Planning officers can be seen by appointment and Environmental Health staff will touch down in Exmouth according to operational need. All services are still available at Sidmouth and will transfer from Knowle to Honiton, probably in December 2018.

Cllr Twiss added: “The project is aptly named ‘Moving and Improving’. That’s because it’s not a move for move’s sake; it’s the only way we can hope to reduce costs, give our staff decent working conditions and be open for business, where and when our customers want us.

“With sale of the Knowle site imminent, we have been convinced for a significant time that this move is in the best interests of all concerned, including Sidmouth.

East Devon District Council Leader, Cllr Paul Diviani (second right) and deputy Leader, Cllr Phil Twiss (second left) join Paul Gale (left), Regional Director of contractors Interserve, and deputy Chief Executive, Richard Cohen (right) for a site visit to see how works are progressing

“Now that another obstacle in the path of our proposals has been removed, we look forward to pressing on as quickly as possible to complete the sale to Pegasus Life and to finalise our move. This has always been a complex project, not only in terms of the logistics of such an ambitious plan but also because it has polarised some sections of the community in Sidmouth.

“I hope that now this planning issue has been settled, Sidmouth can look forward to a new chapter. It has been the home of EDDC for 40 years; now it’s the turn of other towns to host 21st century work facilities for our staff and councillors. And it’s time for Sidmouth to embrace the changes that are coming.

“There IS life after Knowle, both for Sidmouth and for the rest of East Devon and we now have the means at our disposal to prove that.

“So far as the Knowle site is concerned, the Pegasus Life development offers the potential for an influx of new residents, with the contribution they will make to the town’s economy and culture, as well as employment opportunities for local people.

PegasusLife's plans for Knowle

“Sidmouth is not – and never was – dependent on being the location of the council’s HQ for its economy or its status. It has so many more strings to its bow than that – and local Conservatives want to see the town thrive and prosper by sustaining its traditional strengths and adding new ones. This includes new ways to capitalise on Sidmouth’s unique position on the Jurassic coast and as a year-round holiday destination.

“Sidmouth is a place where new ideas are bubbling under all the time and I have every confidence the town will go from strength to strength”.

But in granting planning permission for the development Mr Boniface concluded:“It would not harm the character and appearance of the area, neighbours’ living conditions or the setting of the adjacent Grade II listed summerhouse. The proposal is in accordance with the development plan, taken as a whole, and should be granted planning permission.”

A CGI showing Pegasus Life's planned development of retirement apartments at the Knowle in Sidmouth, which was refused planning permission by East Devon District Council in December

Certain conditions have been agreed on the development to protect the amenities of neighbouring properties. This will require the fitting of obscure glazing to some windows and privacy screens to some balconies, as necessary.

'New chapter for Sidmouth and there is life after the Knowle' as council pushes ahead with relocation plans - Devon Live

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