Knowle hotel building won’t be saved

PegasusLife's revised plan for its Plateau site at Knowle

PegasusLife's revised plan for its Plateau site at Knowle - Credit: Archant

A developer proposing to build 118 retirement apartments at Knowle has no intention of preserving the site’s former hotel building as part of its plans.

The Herald reported last week how national conservation group Save Britain’s Heritage (SAVE) had written to PegasusLife, urging the firm to consider retaining and converting the 19th century building.

In a response sent this week, the developer says it appreciates SAVE’s concerns, and has promised to protect some of the structure’s historic features and display them in Sidmouth Museum.

But the firm says that the heritage value of the building, which has been ‘considerably watered down’ after years of alterations and extensions, is not reason enough to keep it.

In her reply, Emma Webster, of PegasusLife, said: “Throughout the development of this scheme, we have been highly conscious, not just of the potential historic and architectural merit of Knowle itself, but also how such a building, and its potential loss, would impact on the historic environment as a whole. We agree that there are many precedents throughout the UK where historic buildings can be updated and re-used, and we are undertaking such actions in developments in Cheltenham and Sevenoaks, but on this occasion we remain of the view that the heritage values of the existing building do not present sufficient reasons for its retention.”

In response to Pegasus’s reply, Clementine Cecil, of SAVE, said: “Demolition is not a satisfactory way of dealing with a historic building, even an unlisted one. It is clearly a fine building that remains in use and popular. It deserves more than a tokenistic nod towards conservation in the form of keeping some tiles, fireplaces and fragments of wallpaper. We will be objecting formally and in the strongest possible terms to the planning application.”

Pegasus is aiming to submit its formal plans for the site next month.