• EDDC cabinet vote through plans to scrap Skypark and instead pursue offices at Exmouth and Honiton

    3rd December 2014 | News | Claire
  • The recommendations also paved the way for the Knowle to be sold, with a decision to come back before cabinet and then full council, next year.

    The council has u-turned on its plan earlier this year to relocate from Sidmouth to Skypark, on the edge of Exeter.

    The planned move to Skypark was a change of plan from the previous option of a new HQ at Honiton.

    Councillors and officers decided (after about eight months of negotiations) that Skypark was unaffordable.  Officers were in the process of arranging to buy land at Skypark for building at a price tag of almost £1m.

    Instead the conservative leadership now intends to build extra space onto the East Devon Business Centre. They also plan to refurbish the Exmouth Town Hall offices, that were built in the 1920s.

    One of the main reasons cited for moving offices is that the the Knowle is not fit for purpose. Around half of the building is over 100 years old. The other half was built in the 1970s for East Devon District Council.

    The council says it faces urgent repair bills of over £1.5m. But voted down a motion of mine in February, to allow an independent surveyor to assess the building for a second opinion.

    Many people distrust how many urgent repairs the council offices really face.

    Several million pounds are also likely to need to be borrowed to achieve the council’s ambitions.

    Now officers will decide on a preferred developer for the Knowle, before a decision to sell the HQ is brought back to cabinet and then to full council next year.

    The recommendations from this evening’s cabinet will go before full council on Wednesday 17 December.

    We are told that over a 20 year period that the plans will save money. I am a very long way from convinced of this.

    Most councillors seemed to support the plans this evening. However, some of us still have serious concerns at the amount of taxpayer’s money that has been wasted on this project so far – and how much more will be wasted in the future.

    Listen in to tomorrow’s BBC Radio Devon programme that starts at 6.30am for interviews on this, from me, residents and EDDC leader, Cllr Paul Diviani.

    Photographs:  EDDC’s offices at Knowle, Sidmouth.