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East Devon District Council staff pack up desks

They're moving from Sidmouth to new Honiton building

The council's old offices at Knowle will close at 5pm today (Friday 8th February) after being in use since 1974. 

The building is a former Victorian hotel which was extended in the 70s and 80s for office use. But the Council says the building has become "increasingly inefficient" for modern use and expensive to heat and maintain. It's being sold to a developer who will turn it into a retirement complex. The extensive grounds have been offered by the council to Sidmouth Town Council. 

The project at Blackdown House has taken 18 months to complete. It has less than half the floor space of Knowle and the council says the "space is used much more efficiently to reflect the way the council works", including shared desks, open working environments, and suitably sized meeting rooms. Council meetings will be held in a new council chamber with modern audio/visual technology for councillors and the public. The council estimates that energy bills will be half the previous amounts and, as the roof has solar panels. 

Key Facts
• A total of 97,000 bricks were used on the project
• Around 600 people worked on site
• 59 Subcontractors – 60% are based within 50 miles of Honiton
• Designed and constructed to achieve BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), Very Good accreditation
• The building height is approximately 17 metres
• Total floor area is 2,760 m2
• 3,000 metric tonnes of old concrete slabs on the former site were crushed to make recycled aggregate avoiding 375 lorry journeys
• 216 shared desks including reception desk and booths
• Council chamber for 60 Members and 69 public seats with a further 40+ seats available in the second floor gallery overlooking the chamber
• Hearing loops in reception and meeting rooms, with an infra-red hearing loop in the council chamber
• Renewable energy generation with 112 Photo Voltaic panels on the south facing roof slope with an anticipated yield of 32,000 kWh pa
• 130 car parking spaces including seven for people with disabilities
• Two electric vehicle charging points with ducts incorporated for future expansion
• 18 motorcycle parking spaces
• Secure undercover cycle racks with CCTV coverage for 30 cycles

East Devon District Council’s Leader, Cllr Ian Thomas, said: “I am delighted that East Devon District Council has a 21st century cost effective and energy efficient headquarters that will pay for itself within 20 years. From Day 1, we will be saving money in operating costs which has got to be good news for our Council Tax payers.’’

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