Developer prepares challenge to Knowle planning refusal

PegasusLife's plans for Knowle. EDDC planning officers voiced concerns about development onto the te

PegasusLife's plans for Knowle. EDDC planning officers voiced concerns about development onto the terraces and the impact on the listed summerhouse - Credit: Archant

A developer has set out its arguments for a 113-home retirement community at Knowle, Sidmouth, as it bids to overturn the scheme’s rejection through a planning appeal.

PegasusLife’s proposals for the site of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) current HQ were refused permission last year – and it could be another 10 months before the Planning Inspectorate delivers a verdict.

The deal is worth £7.505million to EDDC, subject to planning permission, although councillors have voted to press ahead with the £10million relocation to Exmouth and Honiton before any payment is made.

Development management committee members defied officer advice to refuse the scheme in December – arguing it represents a departure from Knowle’s 50-home allocation in the Local Plan.

Members also objected to the scale, height, bulk and massing of the proposed development, although the developer will argue it is ‘thoughtful and considered’.

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The authority said it would result in a loss of light and privacy for adjoining properties, but PegasusLife says it will only ‘materially impact’ Hillcrest and its amenity will not be adversely affected.

It will claim that the development will not have a direct impact on Konwle’s listed summerhouse and that the scheme’s benefits outweigh any potential harm to the structure.

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There was also a dispute with EDDC about whether the scheme should be classed as C2, care accommodation, or C3, housing, and PegasusLife will maintain that it should be the former. If the planning inspector agrees, it will not need to provide any ‘affordable’ housing or community funding for the town.

PegasusLife is hoping the appeal will go to a hearing and it expects this to take more than two days so the evidence can be cross-examined.

It will argue that there is a ‘compelling need’ for extra care accommodation in East Devon. It says the development will be tailored to meet the needs of occupants as they age, with integrated on-site communal facilities.

Under the proposals, there will also be a compulsory healthcare needs package for all residents, and an age restriction on the properties so at least one occupant is aged over 60.

An EDDC spokeswoman said it is likely to take eight to 10 months before a decision on the appeal is made.

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