2020 vision for Knowle redevelopment

The view towards The Dell in PegasusLife's plans for Knowle

The view towards The Dell in PegasusLife's plans for Knowle - Credit: Archant

The council offices at Knowle could be replaced with a 115-bed retirement community by 2020 if a developer stays on schedule.

PegasusLife's plans for The Plateau at Knowle

PegasusLife's plans for The Plateau at Knowle - Credit: Archant

PegasusLife’s plans have now been validated and say the project will cut traffic, enhance the parkland and ‘bring a new lease of life’ to the site.

The proposals retain the existing footpaths and will also create wellbeing facilities open to the public – but it is unclear how many of the 365 jobs lost to the town when East Devon District Council (EDDC) relocates will be replaced.

PegasusLife has agreed to buy the site for between £7million and £8million from the authority, which is relocating to a renovated Exmouth Town Hall and purpose-built offices at Honiton’s Heathpark.

The application states: “The quantum of development proposed within the application has emerged through an exhaustive examination of the constraints, opportunities and capacity of the site, including detailsed discussions with EDDC officers and the local community.

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“The proposals have been carefully considered so that they avoid or mitigate any adverse impacts, while making effective use of a brownfield site within an urban area.”

EDDC’s Local Plan allocates 50 care home spaces in Sidmouth, but PegasusLife said this comes ‘nowhere near’ meeting potential demand in the town.

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If its planning application is approved, the developer will create 115 one- and two-bedroom apartments for the over-60s.

The building footprint at Knowle will increase 66 per cent from 7,722 square metres to 12,851 square metres, with the loss of 98 parking spaces. Space for 29 bicycles will be created.

The existing council offices and the former Knowle hotel are set to be demolished between March and May 2018.

Construction work is scheduled to run from June 2018 to October 2020, mainly using Station Road for access.

For the duration of the 40-month project, work would take place from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. Shouting will be discouraged and the use of broadcast radios will not be permitted.

PegasusLife says it is committed to ‘good neighbourliness’ and will engage with the community at all stages of the development.

It responded to its first round of public consultation, in November, by cutting the number of apartments from 126 to 115 and changing the designs of the buildings.

Following the second consultation event, in January, the Dell building was extended so it ‘better fits with its surroundings’, and its eastern wing ‘reduced’ to cut its visibility to its immediate neighbours.

After the build, PegasusLife will establish a management company to oversee the development. It will retain a 51 per cent stake in the company, with the remainder owned by its residents.

Members of the public will be able to use a spa, pool, treatment rooms and wellbeing suite for three years – after which the management company will determine the level and type of access to the facilities.

The plans say only 14.5 full-time equivalent jobs will be created, although this excludes care staff, maintenance workers and groundsmen. Additional staff will be employed as the development matures.

EDDC is in discussions about transferring the remaining 8.6 acres of parkland to Sidmouth Town Council.

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