Some more examples will be posted here, for those who could not attend the Development Management Committee Meeting which rejected EDDC’s Outline Planning Application to develop the Knowle.
Richard Thurlow’s speech can be found on 1st March post on this website. He was representing the Sid Vale Association on this occasion.
The speech reproduced below is by Jeremy Woodward, on behalf of Sidmouth’s Futures Forum.
It is clear that in order to justify laying waste to Knowle, Officers in their Report have needed to undermine the quality and importance of the site: QUOTE “While the loss of part of the parkland and formal gardens is unfortunate, it is considered that the impact on any limited remaining historic interest of these areas would be minor.”
But this assessment is contradicted in the conclusion from the full Report from English Heritage, which states that, whilst the house and gardens do not QUOTE “meet the criteria for designation in a national context, … Knowle, with its prominent position overlooking the town of Sidmouth, and the remains of its landscape garden which is now a public space, have
clear local interest.”
The Victorian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage say the same: QUOTE:
“The loss of the Knowle and development of the park on the scale proposed would represent a devastating blow to the history and character of Sidmouth.”
And from the Devon Gardens Trust: QUOTE: “We consider that it would not be acceptable, in terms of the historic designed landscape, to build on any of the existing parkland” at Knowle.
So, why are we considering destroying all of this?
Mr Chairman: you have stated that this meeting QUOTE “is only considering the Application put before it, and not the principle of whether or not the Council should, could or will relocate.”
However, your Officers seem to hold a different opinion, with the Communications Officer saying that the District Council wants this meeting QUOTE “to determine the Application as part of its aspirations to relocate.” And Officers in the Executive Summary of their Report declare in no uncertain terms that relocation QUOTE “weighs in favour of the development overall.”
This is the elephant in the room.
The only reason we are here considering this Application is because QUOTE “the District aims to move its main offices.”
In other words, we are about to about to embark on an enormous asset-stripping spree, simply to satisfy an unsubstantiated pipedream of relocating the District’s headquarters.
For, beyond the confines of the little-known Relocation Working Parties, there has been no proper consideration of these issues, whether it be the alternatives to demolition, for example converting the old Knowle into flats as it was in the 1960s, or considering the motion to postpone relocation which was jettisoned at last December’s Council meeting.
And yet we are now considering stripping these valuable assets to finance some grandiose scheme, totally ignoring the catastrophe next door at WEST DORSET DISTRICT COUNCIL, where the selling of old offices and the building of new has been highly contentious: QUOTE “The council just pushed on and now it has to try and limit its damage, with… many councillors bemused as to how it was ever allowed to happen.”
More elephants in the room (or not) at SIN blog, 2nd March.