Transfer of land at Dowell Street given the go-ahead.

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The Beehive Community Centre in Honiton has moved a step closer and building work could start as soon as next month. This comes after East Devon District Council agreed the transfer of land at Dowell Street car park to Honiton Town Council.

The town council has already selected a contractor for the project and it is hoped contracts can be signed in the next two weeks to allow for work to start in March.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, the deputy leader of the district council, said: “We are very pleased to be supporting this project and bringing localism to life in Honiton. It’s important that we keep a firm eye on our assets and how they can best be used, and this is a great example of good asset management having a really positive impact.

“We have agreed some sensible principles which make sure that the district and its taxpayers would not miss out if the land were eventually used for something of a higher land value, for example local housing.

“However, the focus is very much on seeing a good quality and much sought-after community centre and town hub provided for Honiton residents and those from surrounding villages and communities.”

Alternative parking for residents, who regularly use the car park overnight, are being arranged and people will be contacted directly before any work begins.

In a move similar to the process the district council followed when it made land available at Sidmouth for the Stowford Community Centre, councillors agreed that they would waive the right to dispose of the land – estimated to be worth between £360,000 and £430,000 – at the full market value, referred to in Government policy as “less than best value”.

The multi-purpose building will include a central hall with seating capacity of 300 plus, a café/ bar area, function rooms and offices to cater for the centre manager, together with staff from the town council, the Robert Owen Communities (ROC) and registration service.

Town councillor Nick Cornwell, who chairs the joint Beehive Steering Group between the town and district council, said: “This has been a truly historic week for Honiton.

“On Monday the Town Council approved the appointment of the building contractor, having established that we have the funding for the build in place – and now we are to be given the freehold of the land. After years of delays and hitches, things really are coming together now.”

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