“Knowle developer will only pay for affordable housing if profits exceed expectations” – yeah, right!

Over 100 flats selling at around £400,000 or more with massive service charges. Will they make a profit? Of course not – developers never do in these circumstances!

“PegasusLife had argued its proposals should be classed under ‘residential institutions’ – branded ‘C2’ in planning terms – meaning it would not need to make a contribution.

Landowner East Devon District Council (EDDC) had contested it should be classed as C3 for housing, meaning there would normally be a payment towards off-site affordable housing.

An agreement between the parties, revealed last week, shows there is an ‘overage’ clause, so PegasusLife would only pay out if the scheme exceeds its forecasts.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “PegasusLife has submitted viability evidence to demonstrate that the scheme would not be viable if it were to provide affordable housing, which the council has accepted.

“The council has had this information independently assessed by specialists in development viability who have confirmed that the development cannot afford to meet the council’s policy requirements for affordable housing.

“Accordingly, the council has required an overage clause to be included within the section 106 agreement, which will seek to obtain a contribution towards affordable housing in the event that the scheme is more profitable than currently envisaged.

“This approach has been used before and supported by planning inspectors at appeal. If the development is found to be C2 by the inspector then there would be no affordable housing required to be provided.

“However, the Knowle inquiry is still ongoing and is timetabled to conclude today (Tuesday).

“We anticipate receiving a final decision from the inspector in January.”

The section 106 agreement shows that the land is valued at £5.8million.

The deal with PegasusLife is worth £7.5million to EDDC, which will put the cash towards its £10million relocation to Exmouth and Honiton.

The dispute about whether the development should be classed as C2 or C3, as well as concerns about overdevelopment and the impact on the site’s listed summerhouse, led councillors to refuse planning permission last December.

The developer took its appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector, Michael Boniface, is set to make a site visit this afternoon to inform his decision.”


“As Knowle Appeal Inquiry begins, FOI asks “what cost relocation?”

From Save Our Sidmouth website today:

“The cost of EDDC’s relocation project, originally stated to be “cost neutral” has been spiralling for years (see link below*).

The following Freedom Of Information (FOI) Request was lodged on 26th November 2017, and awaits a response:

Dear East Devon District Council,

I would like to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I am also making this Request under the Environmental Impact Regulations 2004 which require disclosure on the part of Local Authorities.

Please let me have the costs to date of the Knowle relocation project, to include all preliminary pre “moving decision” costs, and subsequent costs of all work associated with the intended reallocation, including those at The Knowle, Manstone, the intended Honiton site and Exmouth Town Hall.

I should also like to know the current and projected costs of the Exmouth Town Hall move, (including all associated costs such as moving, staff compensation and travel costs and fitting out costs), and for Honiton and costs associated with the “mothballing” of various parts of the Knowle contingent upon the intended relocation of 90 staff to Exmouth.
Yours faithfully,
R Thurlow

You can monitor developments at this link:

Costs of Knowle relocation – a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council – WhatDoTheyKnow

As Knowle Appeal Inquiry begins, FOI asks “what cost relocation?”

Housing: too many loopholes, too many abuses

A Sidmouth resident writes:

“The Prime Minister has said it is her a personal mission to mend our broken housing market and provide much-needed “affordable” housing, even though much of this is, for many, unaffordable.

We hope therefore that she will immediately address loopholes in the planning system that are regularly exploited by developers who avoid making a fair contribution to affordable housing, for example by claiming, after they have obtained planning permission, that such housing is financially unviable.

Developers who build retirement flats often claim these are “care Homes”, even though they provide no care themselves. In Sidmouth, for instance, PegasusLife is currently appealing a decision to refuse a multi-million pound development of 113 expensive retirement flats and exploiting an ambiguity in planning law as well as using a viability test to avoid paying an estimated £3 million towards affordable housing, housing money that cash-strapped Councils can ill afford to lose.

It is a myth that the country needs more houses: it doesn’t need more expensive houses, investment properties and second homes. What it needs are low-cost houses, houses for social rent and houses to buy within the reach of lower and average income earners.

Will Mrs May tighten up planning law to stamp out such abuses or are we to conclude that the private sector, as hitherto, cannot be trusted to provide low-cost and “affordable” homes?”

Knowle Pegasus inquiry details

The Inquiry will commence at

10.00am on
Tuesday 28 November 2017
in the Council Chamber, Council Offices,
Knowle, Sidmouth EX10 8HL

The Inquiry is expected to be heard for the duration of five days.

Pete’s pool in Exeter, Paul’s folly in Honiton?

Exeter City Council Leader Pete Edwards is known for having a dream of what has been dubbed “Pete’s Pool” on the site of the current Exeter Bus Station, despite warnings that Brexit could send it pear-shaped. And now, indeed, the pear has been shaped as both the Princesshay extension AND the pool plans have, at least for now, bitten the dust, with Brexit price rises cited as part of the problem.

Is there a lesson here for “Paul’s Folly” – the new EDDC HQ which could cost us anything from £3 million – £10 million (depending on whether EDDC can sell its current HQ to luxury-retirement home developer PegasusLife?

Exeter’s hoped-for city centre development has been hit by a “double whammy” after a deal to build the new leisure centre and bus station collapsed, the city council leader has revealed.

It emerged on Monday morning that the Crown Estate had cancelled its plans to extend Princesshay shopping centre, citing “market conditions”.

This consigned to the rubbish bin an ambitious plan for a huge public space and amphitheatre across Paris Street into the old bus station and up to the back of Sidwell Street.

Following this, Exeter City Council revealed that a contract with the firm lined up to build the state-of-the-art swimming pool and bus station, believed to be Sir Robert McAlpine, had not been signed.

The authority has now walked away from the deal and plans to re-tender for both projects, adding a year to the completion date, now set at 2020.

Asked if the two were connected, council leader Pete Edwards said the building firm may have been banking on securing the contract to construct the Princesshay extension. …

… Economic uncertainty around Brexit has been blamed for rising prices and the falling value of the pound may have made the leisure centre even more expensive.

Cllr Edwards believes the exchange rate is making material from mainland Europe more expensive but has vowed to complete the project, dubbed by critics “Pete’s Pool”, “before he dies”.

“It is a double whammy and a disaster for the city,” he added. …”