Revealed: developer’s 126-home Knowle plan

An ariel view of the PegasusLife plans for Knowle.

An ariel view of the PegasusLife plans for Knowle. - Credit: Archant

A developer lined up to buy the East Devon District Council (EDDC) offices at Knowle has unveiled its vision for a retirement community on the site.

At an exhibition this week, PegasusLife revealed it is planning to build up to 126 one and two-bedroom apartments on the 4.7-acre plot.

The bulk of the proposed accommodation would be in the form of three and four-storey blocks built in place of the EDDC offices and former hotel building.

A restaurant and gym facilities also feature - both of which would be open to the public.

However, the development will include no ‘affordable’ homes and the apartments will only be available to people aged 60 and over.

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Campaigners have reacted by commending the firm’s apparent wish to involve the town in its plans - but say they would have appreciated more information on the size, styles and massing of the proposed buildings.

Pegasus’s planned development would be spread over two sections - with the restaurant, ‘wellness’ facilities and some apartments built in place of the asphalt car parks. The current council offices, with the exception of the listed Caretaker’s Cottage building, would be bulldozed to make way for the majority of the development’s housing.

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The company has previously said the apartments will cater for residents with a range of care needs - ‘from low-level right up to dementia that does not require a secure environment’.

Richard Thurlow, chairman of the Sid Vale Association’s conservation and planning committee, told the Herald: “A surprising admission was that they are planning over 120 dwellings on the site, whereas the emerging Local Plan [yet to be reported on by a planning inspector] proposes only 50.

“While appreciating their wish to minimise their plans in advance of their planning application, we feel it is a pity that they have not been more open with [the size, styles and massing of the buildings they plan], which bearing in mind that they must submit an application by March next year, must be well advanced. The exhibition focused almost wholly on the Knowle parkland, and the external surroundings of their large development. Whilst we appreciate their apparent wish to involve the Sidmouth public in this, the parkland will in any event remain in public hands.

“It is to be hoped, though, that Pegasus, should their application succeed, will contribute to its improvement and maintenance.”

The developer says it will review feedback from this week’s exhibition and adjust its plans accordingly. It hopes to return to Sidmouth in January to showcase the revised proposals, before submitting a formal planning application in March.

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