Fears grow over Knowle parkland in Sidmouth

DISTRICT council bosses have vowed to deal with valued public parkland ‘as sensitively as it can’ in the potential sale and development of Knowle.

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that dates back more than half a century has been uncovered – weeks after the authority’s deputy chief executive stated one didn’t exist.

Richard Cohen said concerns from householders and civic leaders at a meeting on March 19 spurred him into double checking the background of the green space.

He told the Herald this week: “Members and the public asked a number of questions including the subject of TPOs. My answer to the question was that there are no TPOs on Knowle. Although that was the best information I had at the time, it’s a matter that has concerned me, so we looked again.

“Following further enquiries, I can confirm that the grounds of Knowle are in fact the subject of an area TPO, made in 1956. The effect of this order is to protect trees that were growing in 1956, and therefore covers any tree over 55 years old.

“Trees are obviously a material consideration on this site, and we will deal with them as sensitively as we can.”

Mr Cohen commented on the possible Knowle development at the aforementioned meeting: “In terms of what land is there, and the parkland, we haven’t drawn a line around anything yet.

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“I would like there to be retained parkland – it’s an asset to the community.”

Residents fear the amenity could be developed on or lost if the council relocates to Honiton.

Michael Temple, a Knowle Drive resident of 31 years, said the matter was a major concern for all householders in the area – and all of Sidmouth.

“It is a precious amenity, not just for local people but generally. It’s widely used. There is widespread concern,” he said yesterday.

Mr Temple added that residents were considering forming a group to call for the parkland to be maintained, and kept open to the public.

? See the facing page for more news about the Knowle.

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