PegasusLife removes age restriction on luxury Portishead flats (“not viable” they say)

Seems about the same size as the proposed Sidmouth development at the old EDDC HQ, but without the sea views and parkland location …

“Pegasus Life unveiled proposals to change the use of its recently-completed Marina Gardens project, in Martingale Way, at Portishead Town Council’s meeting on September 11.

The developer completed construction of the 126-home complex – intended for ‘assisted living’ for elderly people – over the summer, but has decided its plans ‘won’t work financially’.

Instead, it will submit an application to North Somerset Council to remove the age restriction to allow the properties to be sold on the open market.

An additional apartment will be created as a result, while 38 will be earmarked for affordable housing schemes.

Emma Webster, Pegasus Life’s head of corporate affairs, said: “As we headed towards the final stages of the development, one of the things we have discovered is quite a lot has gone on.

“In the intervening period (since the application), there have been a number of developments built in North Somerset to address the requirement (for assisted living homes).

“We have taken the decision the application we secured consent for won’t work financially.”

The developer plans to increase parking capacity from 96 to 127 and Ms Webster believes the homes will offer a better ‘quality of life’ for owners.

She also told councillors the firm sees a need for ‘this type of accommodation in Portishead’, and will not be ‘importing people into the area’.

The plans were met with anger from members of the public.

Portishead resident Ken Smith, after hearing Pegasus Life’s presentation, described the development as the ‘worst building in Portishead’.

He continued: “I could probably live with it if you were going to look after old people, but you’ve realised you’re not selling them and you need to make more money by selling to any Tom, Dick and Harry.

“I think you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Jonathan Mock labelled the building ‘horrific’ in public participation.

“It has all the charm of something from the communist bloc in terms of architecture,” he added.”

https://www.northsomersettimes.co.uk/news/marina-gardens-plans-changed-1-6273316?

“‘Questions hang in the air’ over council HQ relocation project”

 

 

Owl says: Leader Ingham seems to be thoroughly persuaded that the previous Tory majority council is whiter than white on the relocation project. Many disagree and had hoped that his new broom might be doing some sweeping – but not under the carpet as seems to be happening.

“A full report will be provided that will analyse in detail East Devon District Council’s relocation from Sidmouth to Honiton as ‘questions hang in the air’ over the project.

East Devon District Council’s moved into their new headquarters at Blackdown House in Honiton on February 11.

The new HQ, which replaced the council’s existing HQ at The Knowle in Sidmouth, cost the council £8.7m, while an additional £1.5m was spent on upgrading Exmouth town hall where one third of the council staff are to be based.

The controversial decision to relocate offices was taken back in March 2015 as it was decided the council needed to relocate into buildings that are affordable, cost efficient, and would significantly reduce the overheads of the council.

But the relocation project has faced criticism over the lack of transparency throughout the project, the procurement process, and the amount of cash the council received for the sale.

A freedom of information request asking how much the Knowle would be worth with planning permission said the answer was £50m, £42.5m higher than the council agreed to sell the land to Pegasus Life for, the latest edition of Private Eye states, naming the council as a ‘rotten borough’ because of it.

At Wednesday night’s full council meeting, Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the East Devon Alliance, said that ‘questions hang in the air’ over the project.

He asked: “Both the disposal of the Knowle HQ and the procurement of the new Honiton HQ are matters of great concern to thousands of people in East Devon. Questions will hang in the air until they are fully addressed.

“Will the leader of the council support the immediate creation of a councillor-led working party, politically balanced, of up to 10 members, all of them newly elected in 2019, reporting to the scrutiny committee, to look into these matters in the public interest?”

In response, Cllr Ben Ingham, the council leader, said: “Relocation has been a key element of the council’s transformation agenda in terms of delivering against priorities of reducing council operational costs and introducing modern ways of working.

“Throughout its lifetime the relocation project has been subject to regular reporting to cabinet and council, dedicated project management, senior member and officer oversight through the Office Accommodation Executive Group, regular risk review and the scrutiny of South West Audit Partnership.

“Prior to the decision to move to Exmouth and Honiton and dispose of the Knowle site an independent audit was carried out to inform the decision to relocate and to test the financial projections for the project. These findings were included as part of the report to cabinet in March 2015 seeking approval of the move.

“Both Audit and Governance and Overview and Scrutiny committees met jointly to consider the relocation project programme and gave their endorsement. Cabinet and Council were provided with extensive detail, independent evaluation and wider committee endorsement as part of their approval.

“Relocation has been delivered successfully in terms of the physical moves and performance of the council. Furthermore this complex project has been delivered within budget.

“A project closure report will be provided to council at the one year anniversary of the project which will include a full project cost analysis and detail of operational costs for the first year of operation of Blackdown House and annual running costs of Exmouth Town Hall.

“If Scrutiny were so minded they could ask to consider the officer report or undertake a piece of work themselves and as Leader I would not want to restrict or pre-empt their independence to set their own forward plan. The Scrutiny Committee is politically balanced and already well placed to do this without the imposition of a working party which is constitutionally unsound in terms of its suggested membership.”

Cllr Arnott said that ahead of the May elections, the East Devon Alliance manifesto on their website saw their page on the relocation project have page views that were ‘streets ahead’ of anything else.”

He asked: “Can I be assured that if anyone on scrutiny wanted to commission a piece of work on sale off the Knowle and procurement of this, there would be nothing to stop them?”

Cllr Ingham confirmed if a member of scrutiny wanted to request that, then they could do so.

He added: “At the moment the project is coming in favourably to the target budget. The idea of waiting a year before the report was to establish more accurately exactly the savings that the council is making in the new building.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/questions-hang-air-over-council-3148843

EDDC Tories appear in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs” column

From the blog of DCC EDA Independent Councillor Martin Shaw:

Private Eye goes to town on EDDC Tories’ handout to developers of the Knowle

Oh dear – and now “The Independent Group” led by EDDC Leader Ben Ingham has chosen to cosy up to Tories, rather than East Devon Alliance independents, whom he has frozen out.

With current Councillor Ingham having the been a member of all 3 groups and Leader of 2 of them (former Tory, former Leader of East Devon Alliance and current leader of ‘The Independent Group’) he really has to decide which side of the fence and his cohort are on!

Or maybe he has already decided – given that he appointed a Tory as Chairman of the Development Management Committee, who then used his casting vote to push through a controversial planning applucation in Axminster, opposed by Axminster EDA councillors on safety and pollution grounds:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/07/19/eddc-tory-dmc-chairman-uses-his-casting-vote-in-controversial-planning-application/

Reality check needed for some of his colleagues, perhaps?

PegasusLife not listing Knowle Sidmouth as forthcoming development

Inputting “Sidmouth” into PegasusLife’s “current and future developments” website search brings up the nearest development as one in Bournemouth (Canford Cliffs) 70 miles away:

https://www.pegasuslife.co.uk/our-developments

And Pegasus Life appears in the last few days to have taken out a refinancing loan of MORE THAN HALF A BILLION POUNDS secured on its assets to provide capital for further growth:

Oz Real Estate completes £525m financing for retirement living company the PegasusLife group

“Damian Green: local authorities avoid care home developments”

Owl says: Didn’t stop EDDC flogging The Knowle to PegasusLifedid it! Though, of course, it will be DCC and the NHS that picks up the tab, not EDDC.

“Local authorities are increasingly reluctant to allow care homes and retirement homes to be built in their areas because they can’t afford the social care costs associated with that demographic, Conservative MP and former deputy prime minister Damian Green has said.

The chair of the all-party parliamentary group on longevity, who has produced his own policy paper suggesting a solution to the social care funding crisis, said it was a “quiet secret” that local authorities – who have to fund social care costs – try to avoid applications for homes for older people.

He also warned that unless all parties agree to seek a cross-party consensus on social care funding, a political crisis triggered by an “enormous scandal” will force them to act.

“We need to face up to these unpalatable truths,” he said. “The current system isn’t sustainable financially or politically. An enormous scandal will break and suddenly, there will be a political crisis. Cynically, it may be that we need something like that, but we should be able to avoid it because we know it is probably coming.

“Local authorities don’t want to become attractive places for retired people,” he added. “If things go on as they are, local authorities will become social care providers with everything else as ‘add-ons’ and the traditional things we all expect from them simply not existing.”

Age UK estimates that 1.4 million older people have unmet care needs. This is despite the average share of local authority funding going on adult social care reaching almost 25% of their total budget in 2017-2018.

Local authority budgets have seen devastating cuts under the Conservative government. Despite announcements of extra funds, and a £20bn boost to the NHS under Theresa May, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned of an £8bn funding black hole by 2025.

Last month, Jeremy Hunt – the longest-serving health secretary in British history – admitted social care cuts went too far on his watch.

On a BBC debate for the Conservative party leadership election, Hunt said: “I think having been responsible for health and social care, that some of the cuts in social care did go too far.”

Ian Hudspeth, chair of the Community and Wellbeing Board at the LGA, said: “I haven’t come across any planning permissions not being put forward in this way but we’re very aware that the social care structure is at a crisis point.”

He pointed to a recent report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services which reported that almost half of councils have seen the closure of domestic home care providers in their area in the past year and a third had seen residential care homes closed, collectively affecting more than 8,000 clients and residents.

“There have been instances of care homes going out of business without warning and immediate pressure being put on local authorities to provide care and accommodation for their residents,” he added.

Green was speaking at a debate on Tackling Britain’s Care Crisis at the Resolution Foundation alongside Liz Kendall MP, former shadow minister for care, Norman Lamb MP, former minister for care, and David Willetts, president of the Intergenerational Centre.

All of the speakers called for a cross-party consensus on how to fund social care. There was wide agreement for a year-long programme of citizens’ assemblies and town hall meetings so the public could have their say.

Kendall said it was “absolutely a national imperative” that politicians create a cross-party consensus.

Lamb agreed, lambasting the current system as “completely dysfunctional”. It “fails people completely”, he said, criticising the government for failing to produce the long-awaited green paper.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said:
“People deserve to have a choice of high-quality care services wherever they live in the country. Local authorities are best placed to understand and plan for the care needs of their populations and are responsible for shaping their local markets so they are sustainable, diverse and offer high-quality care and support for local people.

“We have given local authorities access to up to £3.9bn more dedicated funding for adult social care this year with a further £410m available for adults’ and children’s services. We will set out our plans to reform the social care system at the earliest opportunity to ensure it is sustainable for the future.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/11/damian-green-local-authorities-avoid-care-home-developments?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

PegasusLife ‘to build in phases’ at Knowle

Owl says: Won’t be much fun for those in Phase 1 (or their neighbours) to live on or near a building site until other phases (how many?) are completed.

“… Sidmouth Town Council revealed on Monday night 3.5hectres of land at Knowle could be transferred sooner than expected after members were told the land and car park would not be available until the completion of PegasusLife’s 113-home retirement community.

Town clerk Christopher Holland told the meeting the developer has decided to build its 113-home retirement community in phases, rather than one go, meaning it will be able to contain its construction materials without using the public car park.

In November, the Herald revealed the developer had been allowed the use of the lower car park and meadow as storage space for the duration of the works. …”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/transfer-of-knowle-parkland-to-sidmouth-town-council-moved-up-1-5992919