Save Our Sidmouth


Knowle: on Friday (1st Dec), Inquiry heard barristers’ closing statements, and saw the agreement signed by EDDC and PegasusLife

The last topic for examination in Friday’s session of the Appeal Inquiry (1st December) was planning obligations and conditions as set out in the S106 agreement signed between PegasusLife and East Devon District Council. To view the S106  agreement, go to


Most of the day had been taken up by lengthy closing statements by the two barristers who addressed the issues identified by the Inspector, namely the impact on:
Character and appearance of the area
Residential amenity
C2 or C3
The listed summerhouse.


Some points which emerged, are believed to be as follows:

-Neither side asked for costs.

-The section 106 agreement now includes an overage clause so if PegasusLife make greater profits than expected they will have to pay the Council for public benefit.

-The interpretation of “on-site team” of carers seems to be unclear.  Residents must sign up for a minimum of 2 hours ‘extra care’ per week. 

-Residents would be paying council tax as well as service charges (flats leasehold, 999years) 

-There is no evidence that the developer has considered a design that does not build on the terraces.  PegasusLife argues there is no need to look at such an alternative viability option, as they are using the site to capacity.

-Planning spokesperson can’t say exactly how big the bins would have to be to store 3 weeks’ rubbish for 113 flats (collection will be 3-weekly) . Nearby residents believe the bins may be of a “considerable” size. 

-When asked whether Pegasus Life, in providing a care environment, has “an equal duty of care to the people who are already living here”, the planning spokesperson said he “Would accept that overdevelopment of the site could cause harm.”

-No assessment has been carried out to check affordability for local people, and whether Sidmouth demand (as identified in the Local Plan allocation) for housing for people of all incomes, will be met by the developer’s plans. 

The Inspector will carry out a site visit on Tuesday 5th December, starting at 1.30pm, from the Dell (Station Road, approximately midway between  entrance to Knowle Drive and Council Office car parks.). Interested parties may go along, but no new evidence can be presented at this stage.



More on Planning Inquiry ,Thursday 30th November 2017: Design and Heritage.

Thank you to the contributor  who kindly sent in this personal view (copied below) of yesterday morning’s proceedings. It expands our blogpost earlier today

Prof Robert Tavernor (design) claimed that:-
1. the plans draw on the town’s Regency architecture and local building materials
2.the design breaks up the existing single block with variously aligned buildings with glimpses through
3. buildings A and F enhance Knowle Drive by fronting the road rather than the back views of the existing buildings
4. the position of E is only 9.5 metres further forward than existing
5. building D is only 1.5 metres higher than the existing building but appears bigger as it is further forward
6. the photomontages presented were not produced to a recognised methodology and should not be relied on
On cross examination he:
7. disputed the dell buildings as being 5 storeys as they were affected by the topography
8. cited other buildings in Sidmouth such as St John’s School, Powys and flats in Knowle Drive itself as being several storeys high
9. seemed to agree that no quantum study of the 9,700 sq metre plan had been undertaken (later Mr Shillito stated the architects had undertaken this)
10. agreed that D would overlook the approach from the park with its large windows and roof terrace

Mr Simon Roper-Pressdee (heritage)
The majority of the time was in looking at maps, pictures and a photograph to ascertain the dates of the buildings, the terraces and the summerhouse.
He considered the new buildings would enhance the setting of the summerhouse.

The Inquiry continues today, at 9.30 a.m. The time and route of the Inspector’s site visits will be announced during the day.  We understand that any interested parties can participate.


Knowle Appeal Inquiry considers massing, scale, and “an original Fish”

Yesterday morning the Inspector heard a thorough probing of the scale and massing of PegasusLife proposals for Knowle..major elements in EDDC’s refusal of the plans almost exactly one year ago (6 December, 2016), and apparently a common factor for refusal of the same developer’s plans in other locations*.

In the afternoon, there was careful consideration of the “special regard” that should be given to preservation of the summerhouse and its setting, a legal requirement for this Grade 2 listed building . For EDDC, Ned Westaway pointed out that the sense of relationship of the summerhouse with the house and its terraces, had remained intact throughout its history.   He emphasised the importance of its heritage value as the built structure that was “the clearest link back” to the flamboyant collector and connoisseur Thomas Leveridge Fish, who owned the house and gardens in their Victorian heyday.Under cross-examination, the Heritage expert agreed it was, as it were, “an original Fish”!  Mr Westaway argued that the space around the summerhouse has always been and remains an essential part of its setting, and that only glimpses (not views as claimed by the developer) would be seen from the proposed Orangery, as a huge yew tree is in the way. The interpretation board PegasusLife offers does not mitigate any possible harm resulting from the plans to building on the terraces close to the summerhouse, he said. At this point, Edward Dolphin informed the Inspector that Sidmouth Arboretum already have plans underway  to provide  an information and interpretation board themselves, and there is £15,000 set aside for this.

Regarding the existing main building (the former hotel),  the Inquiry was told by the PegasusLife ‘Heritage’ witness that it was of “considerable” local heritage interest, and “could be restored into a building not marred by inappropriate alteration”;  be “de-cluttered” and  “retained for future generations, as fits the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)”.  He was reminded, under cross-examination by Mr  Westaway,  that Building B  was in fact to be retained not due to its flint stone wall of some Heritage value, but because of its large colony of bats.

The last hour of Thursday’s session was dedicated to consideration of whether the PegasusLife ‘special care complex’ proposals should be properly categorised as C2 or C3..still a controversial, fine-line distinction. It finished with an announcement by Simon Bird, QC, for PegasusLife, that an S106 agreement had just been signed.

The Inquiry continues today, from 9.30a.m.


*Recent examples of refusal for PegasusLife planning applications:

Chigwell  (4th Oct 2017) Application for five blocks totalling 105 apartments turned down: too big and not enough affordable housing.

Other examples believed to be:

Bath (assisted living): refused: “excessive and incongruous height”, “harmful impact upon surrounding heritage assets”, “nearby listed buildings undermined”, “the excessive tall building fails to respect its context”, “harmful impact on character and appearance of surrounding conservation area”.

Bristol (Nuffield Hospital site) – officers can’t support due to “excessive bulk and massing”, “doesn’t relate to surrounding context”, would “dominate the townscape”.

Wilmslow: refused: “too large, too high, no affordables”.

Harpenden (retirement flats) – refused due to “height (20.7 metres)”, “lack of privacy for neighbours”, “footprint 28 degrees greater than existing buildings”, “visually intrusive”, “residents’ parking would spill onto neighbouring roads”.