The cost of EDDC’s relocation project, originally stated to be “cost neutral” has been spiralling for years (see link below*). The following Freedom Of Information (FOI) Request was lodged on 26th November 2017, and awaits a response:
Dear East Devon District Council,
I would like to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I am also making this Request under the Environmental Impact Regulations 2004 which require disclosure on the part of Local Authorities.
Please let me have the costs to date of the Knowle relocation project, to include all preliminary pre “moving decision” costs, and subsequent costs of all work associated with the intended reallocation, including those at The Knowle, Manstone, the intended Honiton site and Exmouth Town Hall
I should also like to know the current and projected costs of the Exmouth Town Hall move, (including all associated costs such as moving, staff compensation and travel costs and fitting out costs), and for Honiton and costs associated with the “mothballing” of various parts of the Knowle contingent upon the intended relocation of 90 staff to Exmouth.
PegasusLife’s plans to build a large-scale retirement village in this prime parkland location in Sidmouth town, were refused by EDDC’s Development Management Committee almost exactly one year ago (6 Dec 2016). As the 5-day Appeal Inquiry begins tomorrow morning, the wide public interest in EDDC’s controversial relocation plans, has prompted research into the company proposing to buy the Knowle site. See http://futuresforumvgs.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/knowle-relocation-project-of-paradise.html
The Inspector’s decision is expected within 4 days of the end of the Inquiry.
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.