• Campaigning residents apply brakes to EDDC office relocation project

    27th May 2014 | News | Claire
  • A report to EDDC’s cabinet for Wednesday 4 June confirms that a delay has been caused by residents’ town and village green application, which aims to stop or limit redevelopment of parts of the Knowle.

    And an application by residents to create a formal public right of way through the picturesque Knowle grounds, which have been used by the public for decades, has also slowed down the relocation project, which has seen costs spiral and residents become increasingly angry.

    EDDC’s agents, hired to sell the Knowle to developers, have advised the council to defer any marketing of the Knowle and Manstone Depot, until there is clarity on the public right of way order, which a planning inspector is unlikely to hear until the autumn.  EDDC has formally objected to the creation of formal public right of way.

    The recommendations to cabinet include noting that the “extended timeframe of future decision-making,” on the relocation programme and that final decisions will be made “later in the year.”

    A final decision on the project had been due to be made at July’s full council meeting.

    In February, EDDC’s conservative majority controversially nodded through proposals to start negotiations to buy land at Skypark for almost £1m, in order to proceed with building new offices.

    My motion to allow an independent assessment of the Knowle buildings, which had the backing of EDDC’s overview and scrutiny committee, was voted down by the conservative group.

    Incidentally, EDDC has objected to an appeal to the Information Commissioner by resident, Jeremy Woodward, to publish its building assessment survey.  EDDC has no far refused to release this document under the Freedom of Information Act, which is fuelling scepticism about the state of the buildings – and validity of the case for relocation.

    Next week’s report to cabinet states that negotiations are ongoing on Skypark’s developer, St Modwen, “on a variety of matters, including site acquisition and timeline.”

    Plans for a supermarket on the site of the existing East Devon Business Centre at Honiton, which are required to fund the rapidly spiraling costs of a brand new office rebuild, appear to be continuing apace, with contracts close to being agreed.

    A planning application is expected later this year and if approved by EDDC, it would mean that Honiton would get its fifth supermarket. 

    Last year, EDDC’s planning committee rejected a planning application to redevelop the cherished Knowle garden for housing.

    Click here to read what happened at the full council meeting in February – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/council_nods_through_decision_to_spend_1m_on_skypark_land

    The full report is available here – http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/cabinet_040614__-_public_version.pdf 

    The cabinet meeting is on Wednesday 4 June, starting at 5.30pm.

    Photograph thanks to Knowle Residents Association. Much of EDDC’s buildings at Knowle were constructed in the 1970s, however, EDDC now deems them not fit for purpose.