Knowle's fate to be debated next week

PUBLISHED: 08:22 09 July 2013 | UPDATED: 08:22 09 July 2013

The EDDC offices at Knowle in Sidmouth as it is today. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7705-15-12SH To order your copy of this photograph visit www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

The EDDC offices at Knowle in Sidmouth as it is today. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7705-15-12SH To order your copy of this photograph visit www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Archant

Options for the future of East Devon District Council's offices will next be debated on Wednesday, July 17, at cabinet.

Subject to the outcome of this meeting it will be followed by a special face-to-face event with local stakeholders on 26 July.

The council is inviting representatives from around East Devon, to join councillors and senior officers for a special event where they’ll hear more about the council’s objectives for the project and can talk about any decisions made by the Cabinet.

Among those invited to the event on 26 July are representatives from Chambers of Commerce, community organisations, neighbouring local authorities and pressure groups including Save Our Sidmouth and the East Devon Alliance.

The council is also inviting representatives from every town and parish council in the district.

At the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 17 July councillors will be asked to decide whether or not staying at Knowle is a realistic option and which options to look at in more depth.

The council has been looking at the possibilities for its offices for many months as it seeks a solution for the increasing cost and unsuitability of its current headquarters in Sidmouth. Staying at Knowle would require over £1.5M of essential repair and maintenance work along with high and rising running costs, investment in new utility cabling and any future repairs.

In March, the council’s planning committee refused permission to redevelop Knowle with 50 homes and a care home. Since then the council has been considering its options.

The council aims to find an office option which is both financially viable and environmentally friendly as well as allowing it to operate in a more modern, flexible way which suits residents.

A final decision on whether or not to relocate would be made at Full Council, although no definite timescale has yet been set. There are also no plans for the council to reapply for planning permission for the site.

Cllr Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council said: “The planning decision made earlier in the year gave us pause for thought and we have been considering its implications. We want to make the best decision for both our customers across East Devon and our staff.

“These options have included a range of ideas for staying on the Knowle site. This report will look at whether we can stay at Knowle while providing good quality, accessible services and without creating an unacceptable long term risk of misusing public funds to prop up an ageing building. Secondly it will look at other costed options for relocating and the benefits and risks those options bring.”

Details about the options for new district council offices will be released in a report ahead of the July Cabinet meeting, no later than five working days before the meeting.

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