Below is EDDC’s press release issued today…………………………………………………………………………….

East Devon District Council is considering relocating its headquarters to Skypark.

The decision, taken by cabinet on 5 February, will now be put forward as the preferred location to full council on 26 February. If approved, officers will be asked to carry out further research into the viability of the move. Marketing of Knowle would start promptly.

This is an important step forward and a further report would then be brought back to cabinet and full council before a final decision is made in the summer.

Back in November cabinet shortlisted four out of 15 possible locations for new office accommodation. These were Cranbrook town centre, Skypark, two sites on Heathpark in Honiton and Clyst House, Winslade Park. Cabinet asked for further evaluation of these locations, including further negotiation with developers and agents.

Last month, the Office Accommodation Executive Group considered the options – along with the options to stay at Knowle – and the two top scoring locations were presented to cabinet. These were Skypark and Clyst House.

Council leader Paul Diviani said: “The two choices present quite different propositions, which obviously contributed to a rather lively, lengthy and well-informed debate.

“Clyst House is the cheapest option but also too big for our needs alone. Running costs could be high if we do not secure tenants and we could not secure BREEAM Excellent.

“Skypark, however, appears to offer a more secure future, delivering a new build designed to exact requirements and cost. The location exemplifies the council’s commitment to the Growth Point and represents a key emerging employment and commercial development location in the district.”

Councillor David Cox, portfolio holder for finance, added: “We are working hard to maintain our frontline services in face of ongoing financial challenges.

We are also struggling to maintain an oversized, inefficient and low value headquarters on a site that has significant capital value as well as continued amenity value. So it makes sense to find new ways of creating efficiencies and generating income – and this involves managing and the realisation of our assets.”

Cabinet also approved plans for the sale and redevelopment of the council’s Heathpark site and will look at provision of business space elsewhere. Again, this decision will be taken to full council. If approved, an alternative for a new business centre may need to be identified.