‘Legal challenge won’t stop sale of Knowle’

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7701-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7701-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

A community-funded challenge to safeguard the future of Knowle’s parkland ‘will not stop the sale of part of the site to a developer’.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) leaders were told this week that - even if the bid ends up in court - it will not hinder the authority’s relocation from Sidmouth.

This comes after an online appeal saw 19 people donate £660 in three days to challenge a ruling by EDDC not to allow the park to be registered as an ‘asset of community value’.

Campaigners are demanding ‘proper answers’ on why their application was rejected – and could potentially fight the decision through the courts.

A report to EDDC’s cabinet says that if a judge ruled against the council, the authority would most likely just have to go through the decision-making process again.

The report by deputy chief executive Richard Cohen says: “At this stage it is not possible to determine what the outcome of any such decision would be, but even if it was to register the land claimed as an asset of community value, it would not prevent or delay the sale to Pegasus Life Limited.”

EDDC agreed in March to press on with its relocation plans, which will see the authority up sticks from Sidmouth, with the loss of nearly 400 jobs from the town.

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As part of a deal with retirement community firm Pegasus Life, EDDC is selling 14 per cent of the parkland - along with its existing office buildings, which the developer is proposing to demolish.

In his report, Mr Cohen added that he had made a formal offer to Sidmouth Town Council for the transfer of the remaining 86 per cent of the park, as well as money ‘for the benefit of the town’.