Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and FOI requests >>> "But these are things that people do not know: They do not know because they are not told."
Meanwhile, on the front page of the latest Herald, the Save Britain's Heritage group calls for the older building at Knowle to be saved from demolition:
Plea for Sidmouth’s ‘historic Knowle hotel’ to be spared
15 February 2016 Harvey Gavin
EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7712-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn
A national conservation group has weighed in on the debate over the future development of Knowle by making a last-ditch plea for the site’s former hotel building to be saved.
Save Britain’s Heritage (SAVE) has written to PegasusLife urging the retirement community firm to convert the 19th-century building instead of bulldozing it to make way for 118 apartments.
Director of SAVE, Clementine Cecil, says the potential development currently proposed ‘would represent a devastating blow to the history and character of Sidmouth’.
But Pegasus insists it has ‘carefully considered’ the history and heritage of the site in its designs for the parkland and current East Devon District Council offices.
The developer says it plans to preserve some of the historic features of the three-storey hotel building for display in Sidmouth Museum.
In her letter to Pegasus, Ms Cecil argues that restoring and converting older buildings is not always a more expensive option than razing a site and starting fresh.
She said: “There are many precedents throughout the UK where historic buildings have been updated, at affordable costs, and SAVE sees no reason why this cannot be done here. In our view, Knowle is eminently capable of conversion and re-use. Although re-use of the existing building may not produce the same level of return as new-build, this does not mean that it is not practical or economic to do so. SAVE urges PegasusLife to reconfigure these designs and revise their intentions for the site in order to preserve the building and existing amenity for the local community and wider public.”
Pegasus unveiled a revised masterplan for the 4.7-acre site at a series of public exhibitions last month, which include 118 apartments for over 60s and a café/restaurant which would be open to the public.
The former hotel is not subject to any legal conservation protection, although an attempt was made by a group of Sidmouth residents in 2012 to have the building listed.
The bid was ultimately unsuccessful, with English Heritage deeming the plot to be below the threshold required for listed status, but officials did note that it was a site of ‘clear local interest’.
Emma Webster, public policy manager for Pegasus, said: “The history and heritage of the site has been carefully considered throughout the design of the development of our proposals at Knowle. Unfortunately, over time the historic elements contained within the council building have been watered-down or lost. This is reflected in the comments made by English Heritage in their evaluation of Knowle and its park for listing.
“PegasusLife is working with a number of different groups, including Sidmouth Museum, to preserve important features, including the marble fireplaces and delft tiles. We are also exploring ways in which the Pugin-style wallpaper could be removed so that it can be displayed at the museum for the enjoyment of the town.”
Pegasus aims to submit a formal planning application for Knowle next month.
Plea for Sidmouth’s ‘historic Knowle hotel’ to be spared - News - Sidmouth Herald
Here is the original letter from SAVE:
To: Emma Webster
CC: Devon District Council
8th February 2016
Dear Emma Webster,
The Knowle and The Knowle Park, Sidmouth –
SAVE writes in response to the latest proposals from Pegasus Life, that have been submitted to East Devonshire Council, proposing to demolish the 19th-century council offices and build on the Knowle Park in Sidmouth, Devon.
We understand that Pegasus Life has expressed its intention to demolish this handsome three-storey building which started its life as a cottage orné in the Picturesque style and was adapted in the mid-19th century as a hotel before becoming the council’s offices in 1969. Although it has been altered several times – when it was enlarged to become a hotel and again when converted to offices – the Knowle retains much of its late-19th century interior decoration including fireplaces with delft tiles, decorated timber door frames, an open-string main staircase, some plaster ceilings, Pugin-style patterned wallpaper and painted columns. These features give the interior a grand and imposing feel and the council chamber is frequently hired by local people for significant events, like weddings.
The Knowle buildings stand within attractive and extensive landscaped grounds called Knowle Park located in the centre of Sidmouth. Parts of the park were designated in 1973 as Public Open Space. Despite the fact they have been altered and the original conservatories have gone, much survives and consists of southern terraces and paths, open fields to the north east, and plants and mature trees. The park is a much-loved local amenity and provides a visual contrast to the urban landscape.
In our view, loss of the Knowle and development of the park as proposed in Pegasus Life’s Revised Masterplan would represent a devastating blow to the history and character of Sidmouth, a remarkably well-preserved Regency town in a beautiful setting on the Jurassic coast.
There are many precedents throughout the UK where historic buildings have been updated, at affordable costs, and SAVE sees no reason why this cannot be done here. The council should be setting an example to the district and showing that historic buildings should be valued not discarded.
In our view, The Knowle is eminently capable of conversion and re-use. Although re-use of the existing building may not produce the same level of return as new-build, this does not mean that it is not practical or economic to do so. The long-term benefits of retaining this building should be properly considered as it would serve to secure an important local landmark.
A listing application was made to the council for The Knowle and Knowle Park. Although English Heritage considered the building and park to be below the threshold for national designation, it acknowledged both to be of ‘clear local interest’ and that they are ‘evidently highly-valued by the local community’. The report also stated that the building ‘retains some attractive internal features’.
In our view, the proposed development of 118 new homes, where the new local plan only recommends 50, constitutes as gross over-development of the site. The NPPF (74) states that:
‘74. Existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including
playing fields, should not be built on unless:
● an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open
space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements; or
● the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by
equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable
● the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the
needs for which clearly outweigh the loss.’
These criteria clearly have not been met.
In light of the above concerns, SAVE urges Pegasus Life to reconfigure these designs and revise their intentions for the site in order to preserve the building and existing amenity for the local community and wider public. SAVE will continue to object strongly to any proposal to demolish the Knowle.
Futures Forum: Alternatives for Knowle
Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel and grounds ... application to English Heritage for national listing
Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian grounds: Devon Gardens Trust
Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel: heritage asset or not...
Futures Forum: Knowle: SAVE Britain's Heritage
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "Impressive 1880s Victorian heritage"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and protecing our heritage
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: developers to convert Council HQ into a hotel
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "How buildings sit in their landscape"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the history of the building ... and working in Victorian conditions