£9million Knowle deal sealed as developer takes ownership of former district council HQ in Sidmouth

A developer has officially taken ownership of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) former HQ at Knowle in Sidmouth after forking out £9million.

PegasusLife – now known as LifeStory – sealed the deal for the site shortly after 1pm yesterday (Tuesday, January 14).

The firm is now set to redevelop the plot into a 113-home retirement community.

EDDC says the full purchase price was £9,019,605.

The authority also accepted around £38,000 as a penalty for the late payment of the money.

PegasusLife had been under contract to complete the transaction by December 18 but failed to meet that deadline.

This prompted the council to bring legal proceedings to secure the agreed and contracted payment – as well as seeking associated costs and damages.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “East Devon is pleased that PegasusLife has now made full payment and taken ownership of the site.

“The council understands that PegasusLife will make security arrangements for the site going forward and wishes PegasusLife every success with their future plans.

“This is an important outcome for East Devon.

“Relocation from Sidmouth to modern and flexible office spaces in Honiton is a key part of the council’s commitment to smarter working, energy efficiency, excellent customer service and being fit for purpose and fit for the future.

“In March 2020, the council will consider a full project closure report, which will review the first year after leaving Knowle and full operation of the council’s new build and modernised offices.”

The new Blackdown House Honiton HQ cost the council £8.7million.

An additional £1.5million was spent on upgrading Exmouth Town Hall, where a third of the council staff are based.

The original sale price of Knowle was £7,505,000. Its final purchase price represents £1.5million – or 20 per cent – increase.

“This reflects negotiations that have secured for the council an indexation factor, somewhat like inflation, as well as a proportion of monies PegasusLife originally set aside for developer contributions in the planning process, but which were not ultimately required,” said the EDDC spokesperson.

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