BYE BYE Sidmouth!

18 Jul

In the least surprising event of the year EDDC’s Cabinet voted unanimously yesterday to move its HQ from Sidmouth. Even if they haven’t decided yet where to go.
Only two members of the public spoke. New Sidmouth town councillor Kelvin Dent pointed out the damage to Sidmouth’s economy of such a move, and Mike Temple questioned why the option of improving Knowle’s 1970’s building had not been explored, and pointed out that the carbon cost of new buildings would only produce savings after 50 years.
Deputy CEO Richard Cohen was adamant that there was no way EDDC could afford to stay at Knowle. If the 1970’s building alone were renovated, there would be a shortfall of 1000 square metres of office space. It would only take 11 years to repay the carbon cost of building new offices. A modern, accessible HQ was vital, and it couldn’t be in Sidmouth.
But Sidmouth was the cash cow that would pay for the move. The Knowle site (minus the parkland and lower carparks that would be handed over to the Town Council) was a prime housing site for 50-63 dwellings. The Manstone workshops would also be sold to developers for affordable housing – which might detract from the upmarket Knowle residences.
A succession of councillors warmly supported the resolution to move. The Knowle buildings were “not fit for purpose”, “impossible to modernise”, “past their sell-by date”.
Cllr Andrew Moulding shed a few crocodile tears for Sidmouth’s lost jobs, but comforted himself with the thought that other parts of the District would benefit. And while he was “very worried” about the carbon costs of new build he couldn’t resist pointing out that Icelandic volcanic eruptions made carbon saving efforts a bit pointless!
Even Sidmouth councillors Drew and Wale welcomed the resolution to move, and were pleased that the Parkland “was saved.”
A lone voice of dissent came from the “Father of the Council”, ex-chairman Peter Halse. He said he had appreciated welcoming visitors to the elegant surroundings of the Knowle. He was dubious about the figures given for the costs of renovating the Knowle. He was alarmed by Richard Cohen’s revelation that up to £4.5 million might need to be borrowed to fund the “cost-neutral” re-location. In any case, in his travels around the district, he had found no support for the move from members of the public. A period of austerity was not the time to spend large sums on a risky capital project.
Leader Paul Diviani dismissed ‘conjecture’ about the loss of jobs in Sidmouth and hinted that there might be more investment in Sidmouth in the years to come.
Given the massive loss of employment land at Knowle and Manstone was he perhaps thinking of the “grand project” of the 12-acre business park in the AONB at Sidford cunningly slipped into the Local Plan at the last minute?
This would free up the Alexandria Road site for the carefully planned Morrison’s supermarket development.
Last Monday’s DMC approval for a vet’s practice at Sidmouth Garden Centre sets a precedent for breaching the AONB, and is another green light for out-of-town commerce.
Bye, Bye Sidmouth as we have known it!

15 Responses to “BYE BYE Sidmouth!”

  1. Not a Developer July 18, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Why would there be a shortfall of office space when local authorities are cutting staff by 10-30% because of budget cuts. Oh yes, that’s right, EDDC is one of the few councils that is INCREASING staff ….. and has continuously increased it throughout this period of austerity.

    Roll forward 10 years – when we are all paying vastly more council tax for the plush offices and the scores of extra staff. The chauffeur for the Leader, the boot polisher for the Cabinet, the cleaners for the special toilets for the Portfolio holders …..

  2. Ron Roberts July 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    weare all in this together but at last Sid must realise what has been going on in exmouth for 40 years and now that it hits him he is battling hard We will stand together but this is not for the nimby’s

  3. Mike Temple July 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Agree with Ron. united we…

  4. Caty B July 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Errr but you can build in an AONB – it is a landscape designation designed to influence appropriate development not stop everything…. Errr….

  5. Medusa July 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    A veterinary practice on AONB land when there is space elsewhere in the area? Is that appropriate development? Heaven help us.

  6. Caty B July 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    On reflection – you could be right! But I wanted to make the point re AONB designation that many do not appreciated. I feel that the Garden Centre location is probably wrong and is rather “opportunist” – there are probably other, more appropriate places. BUT that is why EDDC needs a plan – to give guidance where things like this should be located. It is currently a free for all… No plan, no strategy, lots of NIMBYs… Single issue types – for economy, environment and self… We are doomed…

  7. Not a Developer July 19, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    The current East Devon Plan and the new Local Plan could both have been used to stop this planning application, as both have parts which could have been quoted which would support keeping the AONB clear of inappropriate development.

  8. Grumpy G July 19, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    I fail to see how Councillors and officers should not want to see a new building for an existing veterinery practice, when it will enable a modern and up to date building to be built fit for the future, as well as the present, and thus allowing the treatment of horses, sheep etc: which at present have to be seen in the street. After all it will hardly be visible by being hidden by the hundreds of new houses which have also been built on AONB land, which the Councillors and officers wanted. I read in today’s Herald that the Chairman did not want the new surgery to be granted planning permission. Would that be the same Cllr Helen Parr who recently abstained from voting against the ‘ wedge ‘ to be built by joining up Seaton with Colyford ?

  9. Mike Temple July 19, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Aren’t we all nimbys now? All of it is our backyard. Remember Nicholas Ridley?

  10. Medusa July 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    AONB – what was that Daddy?

    Oh, that was when we had lovely countryside in East Devon.

    What’s countryside Daddy?

    That was green stuff we had before we built the houses and roads and industrial sheds all over it. We had animals on it and trees and flowers and we grew food on it – oh, it was lovely.

    Oh yes, I think we had a lesson on it in history. The teacher showed us sone 3D images of it. It did look nice. Will we ever see it again Daddy.

    Not in East Devon son, not in East Devon, too late now. Off to bed and don’t forget your asthma inhaler.

  11. Medusa July 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Pretty soon we won’t have any back yards to be NIMBYs about.

  12. Shelly July 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Get in a helicopter and fly over East Devon. There is hardly any development. Beautiful countryside and working farms, woodlands and rivers. There is plenty of space for good quality, well designed development.

  13. Not A Developer July 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Fly that helicopter over Feniton, Cranbrook, Skypark and Pinhoe in a year’s time!

  14. Shelly July 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    I will!

  15. John Loudoun July 20, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I’m not sure how else to link up with you but please follow our local Campaign to retain the Red Lion in Sidbury as well on Facebook & Twitter. Thanks.

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