‘Knowle development must stay in footprint’

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7705-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7705-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders have reiterated their resistance – in the strongest possible terms – to attempts to ‘appropriate’ sections of Knowle’s parkland for redevelopment.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) hopes to sell off its HQ to fund its relocation and is looking to extend beyond the building’s footprint to maximise the selling price.

But Sidmouth Town Council on Monday reaffirmed its opposition to the move and its view that the parkland should not be impacted.

Its chairman, Councillor John Hollick, said: “The town council decided the main footprint should remain. That was our stance and I don’t think we should divert from it.”

EDDC’s preferred bidder for the 4.7-acre site intends to redevelop it into a retirement community. It was one of nine bids, none of which wanted to retain the existing buildings. The sale will help to fund the district council’s move to purpose-built offices in Honiton and existing premises at Exmouth Town Hall.

Cllr Kelvin Dent, the vice-chairman of the Knowle Residents’ Association, said it was ‘vehemently against’ any loss of open space.

Cllr John Dyson is also the chairman of the Parish Paths Partnership, which is currently working on putting a footpath through the Knowle parkland.

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The footpath plans will not be determined until September, but Cllr Dyson said there was no mention of it in EDDC’s plans, despite its pertinence to any potential developer.

Cllr Ann Liverton pointed out that the HQ proposals also included the grass verge next to the driveway, which could allow for a wider entrance if EDDC’s plans were approved. In addition, the map includes the Knowle depot.

Residents have until February 20 to comment on the HQ plans by contacting EDDC’s legal department.