Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Knowle relocation project: Legal notice for 'Disposal' and 'Appropriation' of Open Space: questions about 'footprint'

The deadline for comments on the District Council's intention to appropriate parkland at Knowle is next Friday, 20th February:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Legal notice for 'Disposal' and 'Appropriation' of Open Space: Deadline for comments >>> Friday 20th February

There has been considerable comment:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Legal notice for 'Disposal' and 'Appropriation' of Open Space: further information
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Legal notice for 'Disposal' and 'Appropriation' of Open Space: more further information

The District Council's planning committee made it clear - in its rejection of the planning application in March 2013 - that any development at Knowle should not eat into the surrounding parkland:

RESOLVED: that the application 12/1847/MOUT be refused, contrary to Officer recommendation, for the following reasons:
1. The proposed development incorporates the construction of dwellings on parts of the site currently used as an area of open space which forms an important amenity for residents of Sidmouth and should be retained for the benefit of the community.

EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL- Minutes of a special meeting of the Development Management Committee - Friday 1 March 2013

The Vision Group made its response to the 'minor changes' to the draft Local Plan in October 2013 - noting the issue of the 'footprint' of the buildings:


It is to be welcomed that the latest draft Local Plan states ‘The site allocated at the Current Council Office at Knowle has been amended to show a smaller area that reflects current development expectations.’

This also reflects the statements from the District Council Leader following the decision by the DMC in March to reject proposals for development at Knowle Parts of Knowle spared in Local Plan changes - News - Sidmouth Herald.

However, the proposals for the site at Knowle “Current Council Offices, Knowle — 50 homes ® 6.295”clearly extend the original Zone C into the gardens to the south, beyond the building’s current footprint [the lawns down to a boundary below the flower beds and just short of the Gothic folly].

In particular:

> These lawns are shown in District Council maps to be within the recreational area Futures Forum: Local Plan: maps in focus.

> In the refusal by the DMC of planning application 12/1847/MOUT, it was stated that the construction of dwellings should not be allowed on "an area of open space..." and that it would be "contrary to policy RE1":’Furthermore the Local Planning Authority is not satisfied that the open space is surplus to requirements and the development is therefore considered to be contrary to Policy RE1 (Retention of Land for Sport and Recreation) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan and the guidance of paragraph 74 of the National Planning Policy Framework.’ http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/special_dev_man_010313_mins.pdf

> The Planning Committee of Sidmouth Town Council responded similarly in February: SUPPORT development in Zone C subject to development being restricted to the footprint of the existing office buildings and subject to sympathetic and appropriate design in keeping with the character of the area and adjacent properties. Advisory notes:  The existing access to Knowle drive from the western edge of ‘zone C’ should be closed off with all access to zones C being from the main driveway to avoid the creation of a through road. 

 All current and proposed Public Rights of Way throughout the site should be maintained.

Vision Group for Sidmouth - VGS Futures Forum - comment on District Council Local Plan

The application for Grade II status noted the declarations by the previous occupants of Knowle - which should safeguard development on the parkland:

·       It appears that the Sidmouth UDC’s declaration in 1973 of the Knowle grounds ‘public open space’ has been flouted by the present District Council:
o   ‘The council's action would make it very difficult for land to be taken over for development once it was a public space.’ (5)
o   This same press report is confirmed in the SUDC’s own Minutes and Clark’s Report from 1973: ‘The gardens and field, though technically held for the purposes of the Local Government Act 1933, have since acquisition been treated as open spaces to which the public have access. It will moreover be recalled that a principal reason for the acquisition of Knowle was to preserve the gardens and field as an amenity for the district.’ (32)
o   This entry clearly states that the public have established access to the grounds prior to 1973 and recommends that they become a public open space under Section 164 of the Public Health Act 1875 as public open spaces. (32)

o   Furthermore: ‘This recommendation was adopted and confirmed by the Full Council on 2 October 1973. Therefore, the Knowle gardens and field was in October 1973 designated as Public Open Space. EDDC would need to revoke this decision in order to build on anything other than the existing buildings footprint.’ (31)

Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel and grounds ... application to English Heritage for national listing

The Town Council have reiterated their opposition to the proposals to appropriate parkland at Knowle:

‘Knowle development must stay in footprint’

06:30 11 February 2015
EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7705-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn
Civic leaders have reiterated their resistance – in the strongest possible terms – to attempts to ‘appropriate’ sections of Knowle’s parkland for redevelopment.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) hopes to sell off its HQ to fund its relocation and is looking to extend beyond the building’s footprint to maximise the selling price.
But Sidmouth Town Council on Monday reaffirmed its opposition to the move and its view that the parkland should not be impacted.
Its chairman, Councillor John Hollick, said: “The town council decided the main footprint should remain. That was our stance and I don’t think we should divert from it.”
EDDC’s preferred bidder for the 4.7-acre site intends to redevelop it into a retirement community. It was one of nine bids, none of which wanted to retain the existing buildings. The sale will help to fund the district council’s move to purpose-built offices in Honiton and existing premises at Exmouth Town Hall.
Cllr Kelvin Dent, the vice-chairman of the Knowle Residents’ Association, said it was ‘vehemently against’ any loss of open space.
Cllr John Dyson is also the chairman of the Parish Paths Partnership, which is currently working on putting a footpath through the Knowle parkland.
The footpath plans will not be determined until September, but Cllr Dyson said there was no mention of it in EDDC’s plans, despite its pertinence to any potential developer.
Cllr Ann Liverton pointed out that the HQ proposals also included the grass verge next to the driveway, which could allow for a wider entrance if EDDC’s plans were approved. In addition, the map includes the Knowle depot.
Residents have until February 20 to comment on the HQ plans by contacting EDDC’s legal department.

‘Knowle development must stay in footprint’ - News - Sidmouth Herald

See also:
Town Council Meetings - Sidmouth Town Council

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