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Wednesday, September 03, 2014
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EAST DEVON: District council office move takes another step forward
Thursday, 06 March 2014
FURTHER research into the viability of East Devon District Council’s relocation to SkyPark in Exeter was given the go ahead by full council last night on February 26th.
Council officers will now enter a further evaluation and negotiation phase with the preferred option of SkyPark. A report outlining whether the council should commit funding to the new headquarters is expected to be presented to cabinet and full council in July.
Councillor Paul Diviani, leader of East Devon District Council, said: “Now we have full council’s approval to enter further negotiation with the preferred option of SkyPark we can focus our attention solely on this site.
“SkyPark is firmly on East Devon soil and the location exemplifies the council’s commitment to the Growth Point – this is an exciting emerging employment and commercial development locations in the district which will help East Devon keep its promise to deliver a thriving, competitive local economy with quality jobs.
“As part of the office relocation we will be engaging with customers and stakeholders to ask them what particular services they would like to see provided elsewhere – to a greater degree than they already are if we press the button and decide to move to SkyPark.”
A marketing exercise for the existing headquarters at Knowle and Manstone in Sidmouth will now also get underway, as well as an investigation into options on re-provision of business space to succeed East Devon Business Centre. This follows the full council’s decision to offer the council’s Heathpark site in Honiton for redevelopment.
Capital receipts from Knowle, Manstone and Heathpark will be invested in the new headquarters so that the council keeps its commitment not to place any extra burden on council taxpayers.
Back in November, the district’s cabinet shortlisted five out of 15 possible sites for new office accommodation, including Cranbrook town centre, SkyPark, two sites on Heathpark in Honiton and Clyst House at Winslade Park. Apart from the two sites in Honiton, all other options were to the west of the district.
Cabinet members asked for further evaluation of these locations, including site visits, further work with developers and agents, an equality analysis, expert spatial analysis and additional intelligence. In January, the Office Accommodation Member Executive Group considered the options, along with the option to stay at Knowle, and the top two scoring locations were presented to cabinet. These were SkyPark and Clyst House, Winslade Park.
The cabinet took the decision on February 5th to go with SkyPark. However, East Devon residents and parish councils in the area have since expressed concern that this new location is too far out, with many expressing preference of the Honiton sites.
If the cabinet and full council commit funding to the new headquarters in the summer it is likely that the council would relocate towards the end of 2016.
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