New carbon zero Science Park build to create 150 jobs for East Devon


A turf-cutting ceremony marked the start of work on a new net zero carbon building that will create up to 150 jobs in East Devon. On Owl’s reckoning a similar ceremony will have to take place every two months to meet the job creation targets underlying the jobs led housing strategy in EDDC’s Local Plan.  

Becca Gliddon,

The Ada Lovelace Building, at Exeter Science Park, is due for completion in November 2020, bringing up to 150 jobs to the area.

The office and laboratory’s day-to-day energy aims to be net zero carbon thanks to ‘innovative designs’ such as 44kw solar roof-mounted solar-voltaic panels.

The three-storey building has been designed specifically for science, technology, engineering, maths and medical (STEMM) businesses, with flexible workspace depending on what is needed.

Dr Sally Basker, CEO of Exeter Science Park, said: “Our mission is to help innovative STEMM companies to deliver extraordinary growth and the Ada Lovelace Building will be the prime location for knowledge-based companies, both those from the Science Park looking to take their next step and new firms looking to relocate and grow.

“As well as helping to meet the demand for high-quality office space in the region, the innovative design of the building means that it will make more than it will take, being net zero carbon and highly sustainable.”

Councillor Ian Thomas, East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) portfolio holder for finance, and chair of Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone Board, said: “The Science Park is the flagship project within the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone.

“This new building will build on the success already being realised at Exeter Science Park, with space in high demand.

“The Ada Lovelace Building will provide further opportunities for high-quality, high-value jobs in our district.”

Exeter Science Park Limited is the park developer and has four shareholders, Devon County Council (DCC), the University of Exeter, EDDC and Exeter City Council.

EDDC’s cabinet has invested £1.1m in the development of the building in conjunction with DCC as part of the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone programme.

The Ada Lovelace Building is part-funded by £5.5 million from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s (HotSW LEP) growth deal funding.

Karl Tucker, chair of the HotSW LEP, said the new space would be a ‘valuable asset in attracting innovative, knowledge-based companies to our area’.

He said: “The new Ada Lovelace Building – formally known as the Open Innovation Building – is one of our Growth Deal-funded projects designed to boost the economy in key sectors throughout the heart of the South West.”

The Ada Lovelace Building, named after the 19th Century mathematician and computer scientist, is being built by Midas Construction.

Owl thinks it is worth listing the dramatis personae in the accompanying photo: Cllr Ian Thomas, chair of Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone; Prof Sir William Wakeham, chair of Exeter Science Park board of directors; Dr Sally Basker, CEO Exeter Science Park; Steve Hindley, chairman of Midas Construction; Eifion Jones, Chief Operating Officer, HotSW LEP.

Royal carpet-maker Axminster floored as rescue bid falters

Axminster Carpets, founded in 1755, is the last link to Devon’s historic wool trade. Sadly, this famous carpet-makers has collapsed into administration, threatening the 265 year-old royal warrant-holder’s survival prospects. /story/royal-carpet-maker-axminster-floored-as-rescue-bid-falters-11937845

Mark Kleinman, Sky News

Sky News has learnt that Axminster Carpets called in Duff & Phelps as administrators on Wednesday afternoon after weeks of efforts to secure a rescue deal.

Sources said that Axminster’s underlay-manufacturing division had been sold to rival Ulster Carpets, while its shop had been offloaded to another competitor, Wilton Flooring.

However, the main carpet-making business, which is based in Devon, has so far not found a backer willing to take it on.

Most of the company’s 90 staff have been made redundant, leaving a handful of remaining employees to fulfil its existing order book.

The news that administrators have been formally appointed imperils a company which has supplied hand-woven carpets to some of the UK’s most prominent buildings, including Buckingham Palace.

It is the second time that Axminster Carpets has fallen into administration in seven years.

It is one of the best-known names in its industry, having been founded by Thomas Whitty in 1755.

Axminster also counts Clarence House and the US Congress among the most prestigious locations of its products.

The royal warrant-holder’s troubles are understood to have been prompted by weak consumer confidence, delays to corporate orders and a hiatus in the awarding of several new rail franchises – an important source of revenue for it.

Owl – rail franchises??

Honiton mayor determined to keep his seat amid petition to disband town council

Emergency councillors could be drafted in to lead Honiton Town Council if a petition to dissolve the authority is successful, according to:

The petition was launched by a group calling itself ‘Honiton Residents’, and is demanding that all town councillors resign from the council to allow for a new election to take place.

However, the petition looks set to fail – as town mayor Councillor John Zarczynski has resolutely stated he will not relinquish his seat.

When asked by the Herald, Cllr Zarczynski said: “No, why should I?”

Cllr Zarczynski said a very small group of people in Honiton are spreading ‘misinformation’ around the town to discredit the council, and personal agendas are being publicised on social media platforms.

Accusation have been aired of infighting and bullying in the council, but Cllr Zarczynski said the only bullying taking place is by a handful of people on social media.

He said: “This petition has been inspired by people not knowing the true facts and stems from the misinformation they have been fed.”

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: “If Honiton Town Council were to become inquorate then there is a procedure which would allow East Devon District Council to appoint temporary councillors who would be in office while a new set of elections were taking place.”

Owl: no doubt a procedure as opaque as a brick wall – step forward the “great and good” of Honiton!

More details can be found in a succession of three (maybe more by now) post here:

Town shows ‘love for Shandford’ as Budleigh battles to save care home

Families of vulnerable pensioners being cared for at a soon-to-close care home in Budleigh Salterton came out in support for an SOS campaign to Save Our Shandford.

Owl comments at the end.

Becca Gliddon East Devon News:


A drop-in public meeting held on Friday evening at Budleigh’s football club was to glean interest in forming a Friends of Shandford group with the aim of setting up a Community Interest Company, to allow the care home to continue, and its residents to remain.

The town has come out in support of Shandford since Abbeyfield, who took over the site in 2012, announced its decision to close the care home, saying it was no longer viable to run.

Friday’s meeting tested the waters for setting up a Community Interest Company for Budleigh to run Shandford as a not-for-profit community venture.

The public was invited to pledge their time volunteering, helping with Shandford’s day-to-day management and maintenance, or giving a small annual subscription.

Abbeyfield said its decision to close Shandford, moving residents out by the end of March, followed a ‘lengthy consultation’, which concluded it was ‘not a viable option’ to keep the home open.

Relatives of residents living at Shandford have hit out at Abbeyfield’s decision to close the home, showing support for the SOS campaign, attending Friday’s public meeting.

Shirley Ann Woodman’s mother-in-law Ivy Woodman, aged 91, who retired to Budleigh, suffers from dementia and must leave Shandford when it shuts.

“She’s devasted,” said Shirley Ann, of Isaac Close, Otterton, “I am absolutely dreading settling her in somewhere else. She took a little while to settle in there, but that’s normal. To have to do it all again, that’s criminal.

“She’s very distressed. She has dementia. She knows it’s closing, I had to tell her. It’s all she talks about now.”

Gerald Moyle, 89, who also has dementia, moved from East Budleigh to be cared for at Shandford, and is visited regularly by his wife, Kathy, aged 77

Kathy said: “It’s heartbreaking. They are forcing us to move them out so quickly. I have told Social Services my husband’s not going anywhere. They can’t force us out.

“It’s the underhandedness. It’s all about money and greed at the end of the day.

“Nobody knows what’s going on, it’s fishy, it’s so smelly. You can’t say something isn’t viable unless you provide evidence.”

A confidential transfer agreement means Abbeyfield must hand Shandford back to the town.

The hope is to protect the home from sale or development, and for it to be owned and managed by Budleigh’s community.

Setting up a steering group is the first step to forming a Community Interest Company, to safeguard Shadford’s future, SOS organisers said.

The public meeting was an opportunity for people to pledge time, money, or express and interest in helping.

Helen Tickle, a spokeswoman for Save Our Shandford said there would be other opportunities for people to pledge support.

She said: “I have been very encouraged by the amount of love there is for Shandford in the town.

“Almost everybody you meet, their lives have been touched by Shandford in some way.

“My feeling is there’s sufficient support, but there are other options on the table.”

The SOS campaign said it was ‘last chance saloon’ for the care home after Abbeyfield gave notice of its intention to close the home.

Without sufficient support, the closure of the ‘valued’ home will be ‘inevitable’, and its 25 residents forced to move out of the town – four who are more than 100 years old.

“It doesn’t matter where these people have come from, they are residents of Budleigh Salterton, said Helen. “I feel as neighbour I have to do what I can for them.”

Shandford was set up on 1958 for and was run by a management committee of trustees until 2012, when Abbeyfield took over.

Shandford’s most recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection found the home to be Good.

Abbeyfield said it was ‘with great regret’ it had to close Shandford, saying the decision was taken after a lengthy review of the service.

A spokesman for Abbeyfield said: “ This decision follows a lengthy consultation period in which we carefully considered the future of the home.

“A group of local people, made up of former professionals in areas including care home management, finance, property and law, undertook a detailed review of the infrastructure, building condition and financial performance of the home.

“Unfortunately, they also concluded that keeping the care home open was not a viable option.”

The spokesman added: “We will now work with residents, their loved ones and all the relevant authorities to find residents a suitable new home that will meet their individual care needs.

“Our priority at all times remains the comfort and wellbeing of residents and we are committed to supporting them throughout the closure process. We hope to complete this process by 31st March 2020.”

Owl’s correspondents say that Simon Jupp MP promised that he would put the questions residents’ relatives and concerned local people made to him the previous Friday to Abbeyfield. They understand this meeting took place elsewhere, at the same time as the drop-in. As yet no information on the outcome has been released.

Owl thinks it is worth reiterating some of their main concerns. Lack of transparency over who authorised and conducted the “local review” which concluded that keeping Shandford open was not a viable option. Local opinion finds the conclusion on non-viability runs counter to perception. The building was bought by the local community in the fifties and is unencumbered by debt. It has been reasonably maintained and, although, some further, modest, improvements are needed there is no immediate pressure to undertake them. The CQC report is good, it is full of contented residents and their relatives say that the charges are modest compared to the competition (i.e there could be scope for modest increase in income if that is a problem). It has a low staff turnover and the current manager has increased staffing levels to reduce the need for  expensive agency staff. Shandford is also the beneficiary from a recent legacy. Lastly, locals don’t see anywhere else in Budleigh where the assets released by a sale could be employed to provide residential care for the local elderly.



Wages back above pre-economic crisis levels – peanuts!

Owl finds that the real increase in wages since the crash in 2008 isn’t peanuts. It’s far less than that. It will take an average wage earner three weeks to to buy a packet on the increase!

Andy Verity Economics Editor BBC

It’s always good to have some cheerful news to report, such as the news that wages, after stripping out the effect of inflation, have finally squeaked above their level in March 2008. In other words, your wage can finally buy a little bit more than it could before the banking crisis. So let’s celebrate. Hooray.

Now let’s home in on the amounts. The average wage excluding bonuses is now £511.61. In March 2008, the average wage would have bought you £510.96 (in 2019 prices). In other words you are 65p better off than you were – 12 years ago.

There’s always a half-full or a half-empty angle on wage increases. But to many workers, this minor economic landmark will serve less as a cause for celebration and more as a reminder that the past decade has been the worst for improvements in living standards in more than 200 years.

The 2008 crisis, caused in part by reckless mismanagement of the banks, is one reason (not the only one) that the average pay packet has failed to do what we used to take for granted – i.e. increase by more than inflation.

It used to happen every year. Low-pay think tank the Resolution Foundation points out that if pre-crisis trends for increases in pay in real terms had continued, the average wage would now be £141 a week higher.

Exeter set for 2,500 job-boost as developer buys historic park (in East Devon)

Yet another “job-boost” headline. Owl doesn’t think this is particularly good news except for developers.

As a region and a nation we have very high levels of employment, which is undoubtedly good news. In these circumstances it is not clear to Owl just what the benefits of pursuing relentless job creation actually are. This is the policy of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan. EDDC’s Local Plan is also based on a jobs led scenario (which they don’t seem to be achieving).

In Owl’s view this is too simplistic, more jobs do not equate to more prosperity. But it’s an easy measure and, as in this case, a headline grabbing one.

Owl has been told that economic growth (if that is what is meant by increasing prosperity) is achieved by a combination of increases in the number of people in work, how many hours they work, and how productive they are. The first two are often rolled together so that, in simple terms, economic growth is driven by growth in working population and productivity.

The Heart of the South West (HotSW) is set on doubling our economy over the next 20 years. (Owl has reported many times on the lack of realism in this aim.) And HotSW acknowledges that most of this will have to come through growth in productivity, not in jobs. Demographic growth in the working age population, including inward migration, is projected to be really low. Are the Planners aiming at the wrong target?

Of course it is good news for developers, and where would we be without them?

Here is the story:

Burrington Estates revealed its £80m vision to re-invigorate the historic site in October.

A commercial regeneration specialist and luxury homebuilder has bought an historic estate in Devon to kick-start a major project and a huge 2,500 jobs-boost for the region.

Burrington Estates has recently the purchase of Winslade Park, in Clyst St Mary, which is set in 86 acres of parkland on the outskirts of Exeter.

The buy, which includes an 18th century Grade II-listed manor house, is the first step towards plans to provide 150 new homes and 125,000 ft of commercial office space at the heart of a new purpose-built community.

It will also be home to a £5m leisure complex with fitness studios, gym, spa facilities, beauty salons and a swimming pool.

Mark Edworthy, Group Managing Director at Burrington Estates, said: “Our Company’s vision is To Create beautiful living and working environments, build enduring communities and to improve quality of lives.

“Winslade Park provides the perfect platform for us to express our vision as it is a development that will genuinely create an enduring community and improve quality of life of all people living and working in this stunning parkland setting.”

Burrington Estates’ purchase of the site, which has been unoccupied since 2015 and was previously owned by insurance giants Aviva, comes as a result of a major collaboration between key partners.
Former Exeter Chiefs and England international rugby player, Tom Johnson, will run his new personal coaching gym ‘Number 6’ in the manor house under the Tom Johnson Leisure brand and will be consulting on the leisure complex.

Tom said: “We are delighted to be joining the Burrington Estates team to deliver a unique wellness and lifestyle offering at Winslade Park. Health and wellbeing has a hugely positive impact on all areas of life and our aim, together with Burrington Estates, is to ensure that it is as accessible and enjoyable for everyone to get the very best in health and fitness services.

“Be it fantastic personal coaching, a state of the art gym, a spin studio experience, fitness and holistic classes, superb family leisure, outdoor training facilities, health walks, team sports, lifestyle focussed food and drink offerings and many other ways to improve both your body and mind.”

Real estate consultants Lambert Smith Hampton and corporate advisers James Lang LaSalle (JLL) brokered the sale and East Devon District Council provided crucial support for the plans.

Tony Fisher, Head of Exeter Office at Lambert Smith Hampton said: “Winslade Park will be the only campus ‘business community’ throughout the South West, offering staff a truly unique environment in which to work. A country park setting offering 21st century facilities for businesses to attract and retain their employees within an environment which inspires creativity, increased productivity together with wellbeing and lifestyle. “

Council planners have already granted permission for much of the proposed development, with further applications due to be submitted early next month.

The public consultation is said to have completed with ‘immensely positive feedback’ from local residents and reparation and refurbishment work is set to start at the end of March.

Andrew Pearce, Director at JLL said: “Great to see this hidden jewel in Exeter’s and East Devon’s office stock brought back into use. Formerly a gated headquarters site it will be reopened as a placemaking smart office campus to cater for the unsatisfied demand for modern efficient workspace.

“Placemaking is the buzz word in the office sector, whether businesses are looking for WeWork space in London or Business Parks in the regions. Winslade Park ticks all the boxes. This former HQ campus is being restored and revamped and will provide full leisure and gym facilities spa and swimming pool, club restaurant and conferencing trim trails riverside walks and cricket ground and new pavilion for the local club. As well as the latest smart offices”.

Ritchie Watson, lending director at specialist financiers Together who have provided £7m to assist the purchase of the mixed-use site said: “When we first saw the ambitious plans for this mixed-use campus development at Winslade Park we were impressed.

“It will provide fantastic new, luxury homes on the same site as high-quality offices and leisure facilities. In addition, the major project will bring new 2,500 jobs, having a great impact on the wider city and region, and we were delighted to have been able to provide finance to support the impressive scheme.”

Devon County Council’s proposed new budget is not a good deal for residents

County Councillor Martin Shaw responds to John Hart’s “triumphalist” presentation of the DCC budget.

DCC’s leader John Hart and Chief Executive Phil Norrey are selling the budget which will be proposed on Thursday as a good deal, even the best in years. However essentially we have a standstill on services, more spending on administration and a big increase in council tax. What’s not to like? posted on February 18, 2020

  • There will be more spending on adult social care and children’s services – but only to keep pace with demand, not to improve services.
  • 70 per cent of the Council’s spending will go on 3 per cent of the population – less than 10,000 vulnerable old people and 5,000 vulnerable children.
  • Council tax will rise by 3.99 per cent, well ahead of wage inflation at 2.9 per cent, another above-inflation increase after many years of them. The Government says it’s not increasing taxes – but by underfunding councils, it’s forcing us to increase council tax,
  • On top of this, because the Government has prioritised Brexit and hasn’t announced its medium-term spending plans, DCC is keeping more in reserves than it really needs, rather than spending on services or keeping council tax down, in case the Government lets us down.
  • And of course, we’re putting up council tax this year because next year it will be election year, and the Tories won’t want to go into the County elections with another big rise.
  • Obviously it’s right that the Council should ensure that those with the greatest needs are properly looked after. But it’s not right that most residents should pay more and more every year in return for fewer services. The Council’s own community survey shows many people complaining about this – and they are right.
  • There will be a small above-inflation rise in Highways spending – this is welcome. But other services will see no real increase, while the Council’s corporate services will get a big rise. That’s not right.
  • I’m specially concerned about libraries. The Council is rightly proud of keeping all 50 libraries open. But we are expecting a further drastic fall in book issues, from 2.4 to 2.2 million, over 8 per cent, after years of similar falls. The Council seems to think books don’t matter so much, but if we keep on like this, the core function of our libraries will be dead within a decade.
  • It’s time to put some money back into services that can benefit everyone. That’s what I shall be looking for on Thursday.