Council sell-off stays on hold due to appeal

Monday, June 2, 2014
6:00 AM

HOUSEHOLDERS have thrown a spanner in the works of East Devon District Council’s relocation bid – as the cost of the project to date reaches £705,000.

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East Devon District Council (EDDC) hasn’t started marketing Knowle and Manstone Depot for sale to developers because of an application by nearby homeowners to preserve the former’s parks and gardens for public use.

Knowle Residents Association submitted a plea in July 2012 for Knowle’s outdoor areas to be recognised as a Town and Village Green (TGV).

EDDC members in February supported a move to SkyPark near Exeter in principal. Further research is to be undertaken into the viability of the move before £1million is committed to buying a new site.

Councillors want to know the outcome of an exercise to find the value developers are prepared to put on Knowle and Manstone. This is expected to be completed in July.

Experts have advised the council to delay marketing until there is clarity around the TVG application. An outcome is expected shortly.

Property experts Savills look set to at least be commissioned with managing the marketing of both Sidmouth assets.

EDDC’s cabinet will decide whether to give the firm the go-ahead on Wednesday (June 4).

A council spokesperson described the TGV as ‘a mechanism that local objectors are using to try to hold up the council’s plans for Knowle’.

Kelvin Dent, vice-chairman of Knowle Residents Association, told the Herald: “The purpose of this application is to ensure the public have the right to continue to use the park and gardens for their enjoyment – to preserve the rights people think they have already got.

“I don’t apologise for the delay – the longer the delay the longer people have to reflect how sensible this is as an idea [moving to SkyPark].”

Money from the sale of parts of Knowle and the Manstone Depot – along with millions from the sale of the council’s site at Heathpark in Honiton – will be invested in the new HQ.

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