SIR - The decision of EDDC’s development management committee to refuse planning permission for development of The Knowle must rank as one of the most important and popular decisions ever made by a group of councillors in Sidmouth.
Members of the public and the Sidmouth councillors who spoke at the meeting did so in an elegant, informative and passionate manner rarely seen at council meetings.
After spending many thousands of pounds on an exercise which was both ill conceived and not thought through, EDDC should now issue a public statement to say that as a result of the planning decision they will now abandon thoughts of redeveloping the Knowle site and the proposal to relocate their headquarters. This would put an end to the months of uncertainty which has badly effected not only the residents of East Devon but their own staff.
EDDC have constantly stressed they would only consider an office relocation if such a move could be proved to be cost neutral.
A revised scheme to develop part of the Knowle (eg three of the five zones from the original application, which is what some of the councilors favoured) would in some respects be more controversial than the original scheme and would not cover half the cost of relocation. Such a scheme should definitely not be considered.
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The Knowle offices are well built and definitely fit for purpose, but like any office building need to be well maintained and have telephone and computer systems constantly updated. The Knowle council suite should be actively marketed as a venue which can be rented for conferences, exhibitions and social occasions. Any surplus office accommodation could easily be let out to professional firms, as there is a defined need for such accommodation.
One hopes that EDDC will now get on with providing a good service to its residents without wasting any more money on fruitless exercises.
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John Rayson, Sidmouth