Devon County Council has formally rejected an application by Knowle Residents’ Association (KRA) to make East Devon District Council’s site at Knowle into a Town and Village Green (TVG).
This paves the way for EDDC to fulfil its commitment to market the site for development and get a price that will help to pay the cost of moving to a modern HQ building.
In his report, the inspector commissioned by Devon County recommended rejection of the KRA’s application. This was based not only on the particulars of the Knowle application but also the relevance of a recent Supreme Court ruling (The ‘Barkas’ Case).
Council leader Paul Divani said: “The attempt to stall the council’s plans to relocate has been rejected by the inspector and we can now move another step forward with our relocation plans.
“The TVG application has added time and cost to the council’s relocation planning but the outcome has given us the clarity needed to ensure that we are able to market parts of Knowle that we had designated within the draft Local Plan for residential use. It is important to emphasise once again that the council has guaranteed a publicly accessible future for the parkland at Knowle.
“Remaining at Knowle keeps us tied to old and inefficient buildings and fails to make best use of this valuable council owned asset. At present the council is struggling to maintain an oversized, inefficient and low-value headquarters on a site that has significant capital value as well as continued amenity value. We will now move forward with plans to market Knowle and the nearby Manstone depot site.
““Relocation is central to our plans to transform the council into an organisation that meets the needs of our residents and businesses in an accessible, cost effective and joined up way.”
East Devon is working hard to transform and modernise the way staff go about their work and the ways in which customers can do business with the council.
There are a number of projects currently underway including the roll out of mobile devices to ensure staff have the right IT equipment to allow them to work from home, flexibly or in a mobile way. There’s also the revamp of the council’s website which will deliver an additional 230 online services for customers.