Resident’s bid to safeguard Knowle faces rejection

Angry Sidmouth residents gathered at Knowle Gardens after having their application for a public footpath to run through the grounds rejected. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 5623-26-13AW Angry Sidmouth residents gathered at Knowle Gardens after having their application for a public footpath to run through the grounds rejected. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 5623-26-13AW

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
6:00 AM

AN EFFORT by residents to safeguard parts of Knowle from development – that has delayed the district council’s relocation plans – looks set to be turned down.

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The Herald learnt this week that an inspector appointed to consider a Town and Village Green application (TVG) from near neighbours of the authority, has recommended it for refusal.

Devon County Council (DCC) will decide the final fate of the request in the coming weeks, writes Stefan Gordon.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) bosses, intent on moving from their current HQ to the SkyPark, have had to delay marketing Knowle and Manstone Depot because of the matter.

Members of Knowle Residents’ Association, which submitted the TVG application in 2012, say they are disappointed but positive about the findings that have resulted from their endeavours.

The inspector appointed by DCC, who held a hearing earlier this year, has concluded that the public already have the use of the Knowle land in question by right.

He ruled that the status of the land, as public open space, legally prevents it from being registered as a Town or Village Green.

A spokesman for Knowle Residents’ Association said that householders were ‘naturally disappointed’ but the decision was not ‘entirely unexpected’.

This is because a similar but separate legal case had been decided in the Supreme Court, after the public hearing in 
Sidmouth.

The spokesman added, however, that something ‘very positive’ had come out of making the application.

“The inspector concluded that all the open land at Knowle is held by East Devon District Council as public open space,” he told the Herald.

“This means that the council will have to formally notify the public and consider any objections before any of it is sold to developers.”

Residents were also ‘heartened’ at the complimentary way in which the inspector referred to the association’s witnesses.

They will now await a formal decision by DCC before considering their next steps.

An EDDC spokeswoman said it was not appropriate to comment while the application, and inspector’s report and recommendation, were being considered by the county council.

A DCC spokesman said: “We are still considering the recommendations and can’t comment further at this stage.”

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