Save Our Sidmouth campaigners have unearthed further information regarding the redevelopment of the Knowle, and EDDC’s proposed relocation to Honiton. Following pressure from SOS, EDDC have released their risk assessment for the relocation project. It reveals in the small print, that a component of the move is a valuation of the Manstone employment site. No other EDDC asset, other than the Knowle, features in the calculations.
The Manstone employment site was a late and surprise inclusion in the draft Local Plan as a proposed housing site, and was identified for 20 residential units. The allocation of Manstone for housing was unexpected because the employment site is fully occupied and flourishing and it is a policy of the District Council to maintain and promote employment sites within residential areas whenever possible.
SOS point out that 20 residential units happens to be exactly the number of affordable units that will be required at the Knowle site, the present HQ of EDDC. At the Knowle, the local authority are applying for 50 units, 40% of which are required to be affordable. SOS say that it seems obvious that the District Council will seek to take all the affordable from the Knowle and relocate it to Manstone. They say this is the only possible explanation for the inclusion of the Manstone site in the risk analysis for the Knowle project.
‘EDDC is being as disingenuous as ever in hiding their plans from the public they are supposed to serve. Only determined and repeated requests for information have brought their intentions to light.
The surprise inclusion of the Manstone employment site as a residential site in the draft Local Plan, contrary to their own policies, is exposed as a cynical manoeuvre to facilitate the delivery of their vanity project: a new HQ at Honiton.’
‘The allocation of the Sidford employment land is now laid bare as part of the whole relocation project. Neither the Knowle or Manstone sites can be reallocated to residential use within the Plan unless the Sidford land is identified for employment The future of Sidmouth and the protection of our environment are being threatened by the ambition of the leadership of EDDC to have swanky new offices in Honiton. How cynical can you get?’