• EDDC lodges planning application to develop Knowle

    16th August 2012 | News | Claire
  • The application is significant, not just to Sidmouth, but to the whole of East Devon because it is inextricably linked to the controversial proposed move of the council’s offices from Sidmouth, to Honiton.

    The move would mean a brand new building would have to be built at Honiton to accommodate staff and facilities.

    EDDC councillors have consistently claimed that the move will be cost neutral.  However, at a scrutiny committee meeting last month, it emerged that there may be over a £3m shortfall in funding.

    Councillors are keen to sell off the Knowle and its gardens for at least 50 houses and a care home, in order to fund the move. 

    The rather flimsy justification for moving is that the Knowle building is too old and inefficient – and a move to Honiton would make it easier for most residents to travel there.

    But the Knowle’s energy certificate is c-rated, a score of more than double the efficiency expected of a building of its age.

    The Knowle gardens have long-standing public access, are beautiful and tranquil and are treasured by many people.

    But this is not a solely Sidmouth issue. 

    A move to Honiton from Sidmouth will affect everyone in the district.  A large amount of money has already been spent on consultant reports related to a potential move.  However, no costs have been carried out to assess the cost of staying at the Knowle versus moving to Honiton ….

    See my earlier blog:  http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_relocation_cost_could_spiral_to_7_million/

    I would urge everyone to have a look at the planning application and comment on proposals.  The Knowle steamroller features very large in this proposal.

    EDDC’s press release, issued today, is pasted below:…………………………………………………

    EDDC has updated online information about its Moving and Improving project, which proposes selling its headquarters site at Sidmouth and building a new office complex at Honiton.

    The move follows recent communication events with residents and traders in Sidmouth ahead of the imminent submission of an outline planning application for redeveloping the site at Knowle.

    On Friday 17 August an outline planning application, plus a suite of independent reports, will be submitted to EDDC’s Planning Service by the Chief Executive’s Department.

    Affordable homes

    Included in the application will be proposals to build on the footprint of existing buildings and car parks, plus an area of parkland at the lower end of the site, accessible to Knowle Drive. There would be a care home, a number of market-priced homes and 40% affordable homes, making a total of 50 homes in all.

    The outline application will first be validated by Planning Officers before being uploaded to the Online Planning area of the Council’s website next week. The application will include the results of Environmental and Economic Impact Assessments, a Tree Survey and Transport and Wildlife Studies, which can be viewed online once these documents have been processed.

    In line with normal procedures for major planning applications, EDDC will shortly launch a statutory 21-day consultation period during which time people can comment on the outline application. All views will be considered by Planning Officers before they submit a report to the Development Management Committee, who will consider public comments and officers’ recommendations later this year.

    Anyone wishing to send in comments on the outline planning application can do so online or should email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    It is hoped that if the application is successful and the move is shown to be self-financing, EDDC’s Cabinet will be in a position to decide whether to proceed with the project and put Knowle and its grounds on the market with the benefit of outline planning consent. We will know before Christmas if the Knowle development will be sufficient to finance a move or if the Council needs to consider other options.


    A document detailing the comments made by people who attended the three communication events has been uploaded to EDDC’s website to keep people informed of views expressed through answers to a questionnaire.

    The online Frequently Asked Questions section has also been updated in the light of questions asked at July’s events and answers provided at the time or subsequently.

    Online access to the latest Moving and Improving documents can be found at: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/movingandimproving

    EDDC Deputy Chief Executive Richard Cohen, responsible for Regeneration and Partnership, and Project Manager Steve Pratten met with Sidmouth Town Council on Monday night to discuss the potential move away from Knowle.

    In a lively discussion, Mr Cohen answered questions on a number of aspects of the project and reminded all present that there was an opportunity for the Town Council to comment on the outline proposal as a statutory consultee.

    He also invited the Town Council to consider whether it wished to take on the ownership of the significant parkland area at Knowle that would remain if the move went ahead.