Council leader hails decision as a ‘milestone’

East Devon District Council has given the green light to plans to build an office which will become the council’s new headquarters at Honiton’s Heathpark.

The decision means that the council will move from its current HQ at Knowle in Sidmouth and relocate to Honiton by December 2018.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday April 26, the recommendation of Cabinet and the Audit and Governance, Overview and Scrutiny committees to move was approved.

The council will now start working with its contractors Interserve over the next few weeks and preparatory work on site, prior to building work, will begin shortly.

In tandem with the decision to move to Honiton, the council is also modernising Exmouth Town Hall as a key centre for future council service provision and the building is expected to open in November 2017. Once the move to Honiton is completed, the council will have a strong presence in its two largest towns making its services even more accessible to more of its residents. 

Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said he was delighted with the decision.

He said:

This is a milestone for East Devon District Council. After forty years, we are now moving at last to purpose built modern headquarters, and, coupled with the refurbishment of Exmouth Town Hall, these buildings provide a better environment for the way we want to transform in the future. Most importantly, they will be more accessible for our residents who rely so heavily on the services we provide.

Knowle has served us well over the years but the building is no longer fit for purpose for the modern ways of working which will make us more efficient.

The council approved a report which recommended that relocation to Honiton should not be dependent on the immediate redevelopment of East Devon’s current offices at Knowle, which is owned outright by the local authority. 

Knowle’s sale and ultimate redevelopment will still take place in the future and the capital receipt will then be secured to part fund the relocation which will cost £10,361,000 in total.

The council will also consider investing in a more direct approach to the entrance to the new Honiton HQ by building an access road along the side of the existing East Devon Business Centre.  At a cost of £225,000 this would simplify the route from the main road to the council’s offices for visitors and staff alike.