New plans to turn council HQ into retirement village

[Including a reduction in the number of affordable units – Surprise, surprise – Owl]

Revised plans for the controversial redevelopment of the former East Devon District Council offices in Sidmouth have been unveiled. Plans have previously been given the go-ahead to turn the premises at the Knowle into a purpose-built care home, retirement living apartments and affordable housing.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

It was all the way back in 2018 the scheme for an assisted living development was granted on appeal. Property developer LifeStory though ‘reviewed the consented development’ before selling the site to McCarthy Stone.

They have now come back with fresh plans for the site. McCarthy Stone and Porthaven are holding a virtual exhibition to display their revised proposals, which respond to the concerns raised by the community as part of the original planning consent, and that the proposals have incorporated feedback received from the first consultation held in Summer 2022.

The updated proposals for the site’s redevelopment look to provide a purpose-built care home, Extra Care and age-restricted Retirement Living accommodation as well as policy compliant affordable housing. The consultation will provide the community with the opportunity to view and comment on McCarthy Stone’s proposals for the site, ahead of a planning application being submitted in the coming months.

Shane Paull, Divisional Managing Director at McCarthy Stone Southern, said: “As part of our commitment to community engagement, we have now launched a second consultation, to ensure that the local community are afforded with another opportunity to view and comment upon the updated proposals for the site.

“The virtual exhibition provides us with another important opportunity to understand feedback on our proposals, and for us to demonstrate how the updated plans have responded to concerns raised by the community as part of the original planning consent, and from the Summer 2022 consultation.”

Latest artist impressions of plans to redevelop the Knowle in Sidmouth

Changes to the masterplan include:

· Additional parking has been included within the centre of the site, that will be naturally screened by new tree planting.

· The provision of four houses on the north-western part of the Plateau

· The number of affordable apartments has been reduced from 21 to 17. This has also enabled the affordable apartment block to be relocated from the northeast part of the Plateau to the north-west, that is stepped away from neighbouring properties

· The reduction in the level of Retirement Living PLUS apartments, from 59 to 53

· Additional tree planting to provide an extension to the Arboretum, that provides a green corridor stepping down to the south part of the Plateau site.

· The provision of two houses along the southern grass verge of the Plateau.

Latest artist impressions of plans to redevelop the Knowle in Sidmouth

The plans now include:

· In northern part of the site that currently comprises of a car park, to be developed by Porthaven, to provide a 68-bedroom care home

· A high-quality Retirement Living and Retirement Living PLUS (Extra Care) development to be developed by McCarthy Stone on The Plateau part of the site, featuring up to 27 one-and two-bedroom Retirement Living apartments as well as up to 53 one- and two- bedroom Retirement Living PLUS (Extra Care) apartments for private sale, part-rent part-buy and rental options

· The Plateau part of the site to also include up to 17 one-and two-bedroom affordable open market housing apartments, as well as four houses, in compliance with local authority guidance

· Tailored shared facilities within both the Retirement Living developments, including a communal lounge with a kitchenette and a hotel-style guest suite as well as an onsite bistro restaurant within the Retirement Living PLUS development.

· Principal vehicle access from Station Road, with secondary access from Knowle Drive for the use of emergency and refuse vehicles only.

· Sufficient levels of car parking onsite, including disabled and electric vehicle charging bays, in accordance with East Devon District Council’s standards, as well as an overflow parking area to the southwest of The Plateau part of the site, that will be accessed from Station Road.

The plans are available to view and comment on until December 14 at www.mccarthystoneconsultation.co.uk/sidmouth The principle of the site’s redevelopment has also been established within East Devon District Council’s Local Plan for the period up to 2031, adopted in January 2016.