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SIDMOUTH: Knowle goes on the market

Thursday, 04 September 2014

EAST Devon District Council’s offices at the Knowle have been put on the market, as a result of the council’s proposed move to SkyPark. The site has been used as the council’s headquarters since the 1970s, but bosses say the increasing cost of maintaining and running the ageing building has prompted the move. The 4.76 acre Knowle site has been attributed a draft allocation for 50 homes in the Local Plan, and the council expects to be in a position to hand over the land by May 2017. Richard Cohen, EDDC’s Deputy Chief Executive, said: "The Knowle site represents a rare and high quality development opportunity. “The existing building stock at the Knowle is now not fit for the council's purpose and our decision to relocate has been driven by a desire to deliver a modern council from modern offices. “We are open-minded about future uses for the site and the council believes that the redevelopment opportunity within a retained parkland will be an attractive development and a strong legacy adding to the vibrancy of the town." The council says it is keen to encourage “high-quality” development that fits in with the natural beauty of the site. And discussions are currently taking place with Sidmouth Town Council over whether they can take over the ownership and management of the remaining parkland. Council Leader Paul Diviani said the sale of the Knowle would enable EDDC to “move with the times”. He said: "The Knowle has been home to the Council for over 40 years but now we need to move. “We believe the sale of both of these sites will provide value for council tax payers and the proposed relocation to new premises will enable the district council to move with the times and provide outstanding services from a much better, more efficient building." Alongside sale of the Knowle, the council is also looking to offload the nearby Manstone Depot, and the site could be available by the end of next year. Nick Jones, Director of Savills in Exeter, which is overseeing the sale, added: "The Knowle is a very special site in a stunning location and we expect to receive strong interest from a wide variety of parties. “The site could suit a range of uses and it will be interesting to see what proposals come forward as a result of the marketing campaign." The deadline for submission of offers is Wednesday October 22nd.

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