Do Pegasus Life plans for Knowle reflect local need? The developer’s own publicity (link given below*) suggests otherwise, according to this letter published in the Sidmouth Herald (24 Nov 2017):
As Herald readers will know, PegasusLife is currently appealing a decision to refuse a multi-million pound development of 113 retirement flats at Knowle. Who are these expensive flats for? Despite Planning refusal, the developer’s website confidently advertises the Sidmouth site nationally, under ‘future developments’, presumably to attract at least some buyers from outside East Devon, which suggests the number proposed (more than double the 50 allocated in East Devon District Council’s Local Plan) does not reflect local need. Any restrictions on the flats being bought as investment properties or second homes, are not immediately evident.
Questions remain over the wisdom of EDDC Leaders’ decision to sell the Knowle site—an appreciating public asset—to a private company set to make substantial profit from any development in such a prestigious location. The sale price agreed is less than £8 million. At the same time, the Council’s determination to relocate to an Industrial Estate, spending £10 million of public money (requiring a £2million loan) to build a new HQ, is seen as an extravagant investment unlikely to hold its value.
The Appeal Inquiry, scheduled for 5 days, starts at 10.am next Tuesday, 28th November, in Knowle Council Chamber. Public can attend. The Inspector will hear strong arguments for and against the Appeal. Due to ambiguities in planning law, should the Appeal be upheld, Pegasus Life could avoid making a contribution to affordable housing that the District so urgently needs.
Whatever the outcome, taxpayers may well conclude that the Government should stop trusting the private sector to provide affordable homes, and close the legal loopholes that developers comfortably slip through.