• County council rules against village green bid to retain Knowle parkland

    4th July 2014 | News | Claire
  • Devon County Council has formally rejected an application by Knowle Residents’ Association (KRA) to make East Devon District Council’s site at Knowle into a Town and Village Green (TVG).  This paves the way for EDDC to fulfil its commitment to market the site for development and get a price that will help to pay the cost of moving to a modern HQ building.

    In his report, the inspector commissioned by Devon County recommended rejection of the KRA’s application. This was based not only on the particulars of the Knowle application but also the relevance of a recent Supreme Court ruling (The ‘Barkas’ Case).

    Council leader Paul Divani said: “The attempt to stall the council’s plans to relocate has been rejected by the inspector and we can now move another step forward with our relocation plans.

    “The TVG application has added time and cost to the council’s relocation planning but the outcome has given us the clarity needed to ensure that we are able to market parts of Knowle that we had designated within the draft Local Plan for residential use. It is important to emphasise once again that the council has guaranteed a publicly accessible future for the parkland at Knowle. 

    “Remaining at Knowle keeps us tied to old and inefficient buildings and fails to make best use of this valuable council owned asset. At present the council is struggling to maintain an oversized, inefficient and low-value headquarters on a site that has significant capital value as well as continued amenity value. We will now move forward with plans to market Knowle and the nearby Manstone depot site.

    ““Relocation is central to our plans to transform the council into an organisation that meets the needs of our residents and businesses in an accessible, cost effective and joined up way.”

    East Devon is working hard to transform and modernise the way staff go about their work and the ways in which customers can do business with the council. There are a number of projects currently underway including the roll out of mobile devices to ensure staff have the right IT equipment to allow them to work from home, flexibly or in a mobile way. There’s also the revamp of the council’s website which will deliver an additional 230 online services for customers.

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    An EDDC spokesman is reported to have told the Sidmouth Herald: “The attempt to derail plans to relocate our HQ and sell the existing developed parts of the site, while offering the park to the town council as a gift to Sidmouth has failed. The TVG added time and cost to our relocation planning but the outcome has given us the clarity needed to ensure we can market parts of Knowle designated within the draft Local Plan for residential use.”

    Interesting to see how residents are criticised for trying to prevent a runaway project from disappearing fast down a steep hill but EDDC seems to be totally blinkered about the fact that it has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds thinking about moving – and has already made a decision to start detailed negotiations to buy land at Skypark for almost £1m.  And that is just the cost of the land – Here’s a reminder of that decision – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/council_nods_through_decision_to_spend_1m_on_skypark_land 

    Link here – http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/news/breaking_knowle_village_green_status_bid_rejected_1_3668298