Skypark chosen for district council’s new home - with sites at Honiton and Cranbrook rejected

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East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) home after Sidmouth has been revealed – it looks set to take off for SkyPark.

The authority has rejected two sites in Honiton and another in Cranbrook’s high street, opting instead for the £210million business park – but has kept the existing Clyst House in Clyst St Mary as a backup.

Cabinet members voted for the move at their meeting on Wednesday and it will be rubber-stamped by full council if it is financially viable.

Council leader Paul Diviani said: “The two choices present quite different propositions, which obviously contributed to a rather lively, lengthy and well-informed debate.

“Clyst House is the cheapest option but also too big for out needs alone. Running costs could be high if we do not secure tenants and we could not secure [energy efficiency rating] BREEAM excellent.

“SkyPark, however, appears to offer a more secure future, delivering a new build designed to exact requirements and cost.

“The location exemplifies the council’s commitment to the [Exeter and East Devon] Growth Point and represents a key emerging employment and commercial development in the district.”

If the move to SkyPark is approved, bosses hope to be in by the end of 2016.

EDDC would be one of the first to move into the development, but it would be remote from the most densely populated areas of the district.

Its long-standing HQ at Knowle was found to be ‘not fit for purpose’ before members voted to leave last July.

The former hotel will be sold off along with Heathpark in Honiton – one of the discarded options – to fund the move, which the authority has pledged to keep cost-neutral for taxpayers.

Councillor David Cox, portfolio holder for finance, said: “We are working hard to maintain our frontline services in the face of ongoing financial challenges.

“We are also struggling to maintain an oversized, inefficient and low value headquarters on a site that has significant capital value as well continued amenity value.

“So it makes sense to find new ways of creating efficiencies and generating income – as this involves managing and the realisation of our assets.”

EDDC has set aside £400,000 in its budget over the next two years for the move, and is considering taking out a loan of up to £4million.

But with the relocation project having cost £800,000 already, questions have been asked of whether it is worth moving.

The decision will be taken by full council on February 26.

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