Knowle, Sidmouth - East Devon District Council's former HQ

Completion day and final price of former East Devon HQ to PegasusLife now confirmed

East Devon District Council is now well settled into its new headquarters at Blackdown House in Honiton. The council’s modernised offices at Exmouth Town Hall, which are shared with Exmouth Town Council and the Registry Office, are working well for customers and staff alike. The transfer of staff and services was carefully co-ordinated to ensure that the council’s high standard of service delivery was uninterrupted

Knowle has now been cleared of thousands of items of furniture, equipment and memorabilia.  At the request of Sidmouth Museum, historical artefacts, such as fireplaces and decorative tiles have been removed and either have been or will be delivered to the museum’s premises. Until PegasusLife takes ownership, the council is continuing daily security patrols of the site and carrying out grounds maintenance, as well as monitoring the building’s condition.

The final stage of the sale of East Devon District Council’s former headquarters at Knowle in Sidmouth will take place on Wednesday 18 December 2019, when ownership of the site will be transferred to PegasusLife for an increased sum of £9,019,605 (a further £1,514,605 on top of the base sale price of £7,505,000).

The previously stated base price of £7,505,000 has been a matter of public record for some time and the council is now able to announce that it has been able to secure additional capital as part of its agreement with PegasusLife. The additional sums now to be paid to the council comprise a sum due to inflation (or, in property terms, what is known as indexation), as well as a percentage of the money that PegasusLife had set aside for S106 contributions, which were ultimately uncommitted in the planning process. These amount to £1,095,855 and £418,750 respectively. Therefore the total capital receipt for the sale of the Knowle has risen from £7,505,000 to £9,019,605. 

There has been some misinformed media speculation recently about the value of the Sidmouth site with a figure of £50m being referenced. The council would like to reiterate that this figure is the projected total sale receipts of all the residences in a completed new development on the council’s former office site.  This figure doesn’t take account of any of the costs of development such as planning, design, surveys, professional fees, borrowing costs and the actual construction costs themselves. 

The genuine market price valuation of the Sidmouth site was reached by independent property professionals in what is known as a ‘Red Book’ valuation, against a number of potential development scenarios. The offer from PegasusLife of £7,505,000 was well within the Red Book valuations and therefore represents a realistic and market tested price.

The council’s deputy Chief Executive and relocation project lead, Richard Cohen, said:

In different ways this is a new era for the council and our move to modern offices is key to the council’s plans for cost effective and outstanding service delivery into the future. It is a credit to our staff that the move itself was seamless and their commitment and professionalism is a strong as ever in their new and much improved work space.  To our customers, our council offices are now more accessible and easy to reach and we continue to improve our services and the different ways that people can contact us face to face, on-line or over the phone.”    

On top of this operational success, the council has secured an additional £1.5m or 20% uplift on the original agreed price for our former HQ site and the council has been able to fund the relocation project from existing cash resources rather than incur any external borrowing. This is a very positive outcome compared to what was originally agreed and will further benefit our residents of the whole district.