Knowle options?


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East Devon District Council’s meeting on February 26, effectively put the kiss of death on The Knowle as we know and love it today.

In summary this means:-

(1) The destruction of an historic Regency building, which is a fine example of Sidmouth architecture.

(2) The desolation of fine public gardens and open ground, at a time when Sidmouth is trying to establish itself as the first civic arboretum and a forerunner in the Britain in Bloom competition.

(3) The loss of a valuable car park, when everyone knows that Sidmouth needs more car parking spaces not less.

(4) A move of its headquarters to an industrial estate in the far corner of East Devon, not currently served by any main bus routes, which will make it difficult and costly for any East Devon resident to visit.

(5) The loss of 400 quality jobs from Sidmouth and a devastating blow, not only to Sidmouth’s economy, but to that of the whole of East Devon.

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At this late stage one of two things must happen to save the Knowle.

Firstly, the majority of conservative councillors need to be kicked out at the next election. Given the voting history in East Devon to vote blue, irrespective of how useless candidates have acted in the past, this is not likely to happen.

Secondly, a public fund should be started to save The Knowle. If Dartington Hall can be made into an internationally renowned arts centre, why cannot the same be done for The Knowle? Groups such as Locality are constantly telling us not only that communities should take more responsibility for local events but that numerous funds are available for local projects. Realistically, no ‘Save The Knowle’ fund is likely to raise the £6million which EDDC appears to mistakenly believe it will get for the site. However, if enough money could be raised to pay for the independent survey (very sensibly asked for by councillors Claire Wright and Roger Giles) to determine the true state and viability of The Knowle, this would be a first step in the right direction.

John Rayson

Hill View