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Knowle planning delay over the wrong figures
Monday, 03 December 2012
Inaccurate data in a vital report has forced East Devon District Council to remove its own Knowle redevelopment application from the agenda of today's Development Management Committee meeting.
The controversial and, in some quarters, fiercely opposed proposal to provide around 50 new homes and a care home was submitted to the planning authority by EDDC acting as applicant and landowner in August.
It is part of a wider plan to sell the site at Knowle and use the proceeds for a cost-neutral and purpose-built headquarters in Honiton. The planning application was on the December 4th mangement committee agenda, but had to pulled at the last moment.
An EDDC spokesperson said on Friday, November 30th: "The delay has been caused because an economic impact assessment, prepared by external consultants, has been found to be based on inaccurate figures for the number of staff at Knowle who live in the Sidmouth area.
"There was a problem with the raw data supplied by the applicant to the consultants and as a result the planning authority has advised – as it would with any planning application – that the assessment needs to be reviewed before the proposal is discussed by members. The original figure supplied to the consultants was 80.
"It has since been found that the number is just over 100, taking into account all parts of Sidmouth, including Sidford and Sidbury. This is likely to show a slightly higher estimation of loss of jobs over the ten-year period following the move, should permission be granted and the new offices built.
"The discrepancy came to light when EDDC carried out a further check of the figures supplied to its consultants following a local challenge."
It is now expected that the development management comittee will consider the application on January 8th, following a further public consultation on the data issue.
EDDC deputy chief Executive Richard Cohen commented: “It’s much better that this error is spotted and rectified now rather than further down the line. I think it’s important that if we make an honest mistake we should say so publicly. That is the only way to retain the public’s trust in what we are doing”.
The delay means there will have to be a further public consultation dealing with the revised report, with comments to be made by 17 December. All previous comments will be retained and do not need to be re-submitted. The revised report is expected to be available online at www.eastdevon.gov.uk early this week. People can submit comments online or write to the Development Management Team at Knowle quoting 12/1847/MOUT.
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