Appeal decision means East Devon District Council’s relocation plans to Honiton will continue with an envisaged move by end 2018
The Planning Inspector has today made his decision to allow PegasusLife’s proposals for the development of East Devon District Council’s headquarters as an extra care retirement home to go ahead.
In granting planning permission for the development, Planning Inspector Michael Boniface concluded that:
It would not harm the character and appearance of the area, neighbours’ living conditions or the setting of the adjacent Grade II listed summerhouse. The proposal is in accordance with the development plan, taken as a whole, and should be granted planning permission.
The inspector’s decision on the Knowle site is another step forward in the council’s important plans to relocate to Honiton with an envisaged move date of November/December 2018.
The council’s Development Management Committee had previously refused planning permission for the development, raising concerns about the scale and massing of the proposed design and its impact on the character and appearance of the area and the amenity of neighbouring properties.
Other concerns included the impact on the setting of the listed summerhouse within the grounds of Knowle and also whether the development provided a sufficient level of care on site to be considered a Care Home (C2 use) as opposed to a general residential use (C3).
The Inspector considered that while the contemporary design of the building was not typical of Sidmouth, it did reflect elements of the town’s Georgian architecture in some of the materials used and was appropriate for the location. He stated that it would not harm the building, its setting and that any features of special architectural or historic interest (including the listed summerhouse) would be preserved.
Mr Boniface also mentioned that the level of care provision, which includes at least two hours of care per week for residents and an on-site care manager, combined with the facilities to be provided, including a café, swimming pool and other communal facilities, means that the development would comprise a C2 use. As a result, under the policies of the East Devon Local Plan, the development would not be required to provide any affordable housing.
Certain conditions have been agreed on the development to protect the amenities of neighbouring properties. This will require the fitting of obscure glazing to some windows and privacy screens to some balconies, as necessary.
Other conditions include a Construction Statement to minimise the impact on residents during the construction of the development and a travel plan to promote sustainable forms of transport for residents of the development and employees working there.
A Section 106 contribution of £12,000 from PegasusLife, to improve access to the site from the adjacent parkland, has also been agreed as necessary and incorporated into the Inspector’s decision.
I know that the officers involved and the specialist support that was brought in especially to fight this appeal put forward the best case they could. The local residents also put a massive amount of effort into their submissions and the questions they asked of the witnesses at the inquiry.
East Devon District Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Williams, said:
The Inspector accepted the many benefits that will come to Sidmouth as a result of the proposals put forward by Pegasus and it is clear that the site will be well looked after in their hands.