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East Devon Council headquarters go on sale

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 29, 2014

  • The Knowle building will be vacant by May 2017

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The headquarters of district council in Devon have been put up for sale.

The Knowle in Sidmouth sits within more than four acres of parkland and has been the base for East Devon district council since the 1970s.

The authority is to relocate and the site will become vacant from May 2017.

The property, which is not listed, has stunning sea views and is now being marketed for redevelopment by Exeter agents Savills.

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Agents are not disclosing the guide price.

Richard Cohen, Council 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.”

Documents relating to the relocation of the authority to new offices at Exeter’s Skypark are currently the subject of an ongoing information tribunal hearing in Exeter.

The Information Commissioner has ruled that reports written by an outside consultant about the relocation should be revealed.

Increasing costsof maintaining and running an ageing building stock, coupled with the occupational inefficiencies, have prompted the Council’s decision to move.

The site has a draft allocation for 50 dwellings in the emerging East Devon Local Plan, which is expected to be adopted during 2015.

The Council is also disposing of their nearby Manstone Depot, which extends to 1.33 acres and is situated within a residential area accessed off Tully Gardens, 1.2 miles north of the town centre. The property is currently used by the district council as its depot facility. The site has a draft allocation for 20 dwellings within the emerging East Devon Local Plan. The Council expects to provide vacant possession by the end of 2015.

The authority will be advocating a high quality development to complement the natural beauty of the Knowle site.

It aims to work with Sidmouth town council to take ownership and management of the remaining parkland or for it to remain in the hands of the district council.

Nick Jones, Director of Savills in Exeter said: “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.”

Paul Diviani, council leader, said: “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.”

The Knowle and Manstone Depot are available for sale independently or in combination. The sites are being offered for sale by informal tender and the deadline for submission of offers is Wednesday October 22.

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