Planning Inspectorate overrules EDDC on Knowle retirement homes
PUBLISHED: 16:07 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:21 23 January 2018
A Government-appointed official has overruled district chiefs to allow a 113-home retirement community at Knowle.
PegasusLife won its appeal and the scheme’s classification as ‘extra care’ means Sidmouth will lose out on a potentially lucrative affordable housing contribution.
The deal is worth £7.5million to East Devon District Council (EDDC), which will put the cash towards its £10million relocation from Knowle to Exmouth Town Hall and a purpose-built HQ in Honiton.
It could leave Sidmouth by the end of the year.
Councillor Cathy Gardner said it was a ‘sad day for Sidmouth’, adding: “This is disappointing both for residents living nearby and for the town. However, the decision of EDDC to relocate will be paid for by all residents of East Devon.
“The true cost of this project will not be apparent for many years, when the new office is worth a fraction of the build cost.
“In the meantime, PegasusLife gain a £50million development to promote, with no affordable housing contribution.”
The decision comes after the developer appealed EDDC’s refusal of planning permission in December 2016 and a public inquiry in November last year.
Rejecting EDDC’s arguments against the scheme, planning inspector Michael Boniface concluded that:
• the development ‘would not harm’ the living conditions of neighbouring residents;
• the design is ‘unashamedly contemporary’ and would complement rather than compete with more traditional architecture;
• the development is ‘extra care’, as it offers ‘much more’ than a normal home, and so no ‘affordable’ housing contribution is due;
• the significance of the grade-II listed summerhouse would not be harmed by the development.
Knowle is allocated 50 homes in East Devon’s Local Plan but Mr Boniface said the proposals are in accordance with it when taken as a whole.
Cllr Mike Howe, who chairs EDDC’s development management committee, said: “I know that the officers involved and the specialist support that was brought in especially to fight this appeal put forward the best case they could.
“The local residents also put a massive amount of effort into their submissions and the questions they asked of the witnesses at the inquiry.”
EDDC chief executive Mark Williams said: “The inspector accepted the many benefits that will come to Sidmouth as a result of the proposals put forward by PegasusLife and it is clear that the site will be well looked after in their hands.”
After acquiring later living housebuilder Renaissance Retirement and doubling its portfolio of developments to more than 70, PegasusLife has projected its turnover to be £500million by 2021. It expects the Knowle development to be worth £50million, a fifth of which would be profit.
PegasusLife took to Twitter to herald the ‘fantastic’ news.