Major Exeter vision would transform city’s landscape

Exeter councillors next week will be asked to endorse a new timetable for the preparation of a new Local Plan for the city.

The existing Local Development Scheme (LDS) for the city is out of date following the collapse of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) process last summer, which would have seen Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge councils all work together on a shared top-level plan for the region.

The end of the GESP process means that a full Local Plan will now be required for Exeter to include the policy, and once adopted, the document will replace the current Exeter Local Plan First Review and Core Strategy and will be the single, statutory planning policy document produced by the City Council.

Subject to approval by the council’s executive on Tuesday, a new revised LDS which focuses on the new Local Plan, setting out its anticipated scope, the topics it will cover and the timetable for its preparation would be agreed, with timetable currently envisaging the plan being adopted in June 2024.

An issues consultation is set for September 2021, the draft plan consultation for September 2022, the publication in February 2023, the submission to Planning Inspectorate in June 2023, examination hearings in October 2023, and adoption in June 2024.

The revised Local Development Scheme is vital for guiding the preparation of the new Local Plan which will be critical to ensure the delivery of three corporate objectives set out in the Council’s Corporate Plan: of Delivering Net Zero Exeter 2030, promoting active and healthy lifestyles, and building great neighbourhoods.

And while not explicitly mentioned within the documents ahead of the executive meeting on Tuesday, June 1, the Liveable Exeter programme, which was created after Exeter was granted Garden City designation in 2019, and will create new homes for the city guided by Garden City, has been built into the core of Exeter’s Vision for 2040.

Liveable Exeter will encompass eight sites around the city and ‘represents nothing less than an ambitious and long term renewal of the city’s fabric to meet people’s needs for homes, jobs and services in the 21st century’.

Richard Marsh, Project Director – Liveable Exeter, said: “The Liveable Exeter programme still forms part of Vision 2040 as set out by Exeter City Council. Work has begun on the programme which is targeted to deliver 12,000 new homes across sites in the city by 2040. As you’ll appreciate a programme of this scale requires time in the initial stages.

“However, when sites do start to come forward the programme team will communicate opportunities for consultation to Exeter’s community. Engaging with local communities is an important part of the programme and interested parties can remain informed of how they can take part in this by signing up to our mailing list at www.liveableexeter.co.uk/contactus, or following Liveable Exeter on social media, and we will send out information in due course.

“Related to Liveable Exeter is the work which is just starting on the Local Plan. Once in place, the Local Plan will provide the formal planning policy for the city. The timetable for the Local Plan is going to Executive next week as part of the Local Development Scheme and this identifies a consultation in the autumn.”

(Image: Copyright Unknown)

The Local Democracy Reporting Service takes another look at what the Liveable Exeter scheme involves.

WHAT IS LIVEABLE EXETER?

Liveable Exeter highlights the need to create new communities based on active travel including walking and cycling rather than the private car.

One of the key objectives of Liveable Exeter, as it embarks on a programme to create new homes in sustainable neighbourhoods and communities, is to meet the city’s objective to be carbon neutral by 2030, an initiative which is led by Exeter City Futures.

The continued growth presents challenges for the city’s transport system which, unless addressed, could result in increased congestion, pollution and unreliable journeys, and as Exeter is built on a historic road network, adding additional capacity through road building is no longer possible.

Instead, providing capacity for future growth will depend on effective sustainable developments, such as those planned within the city boundary by Liveable Exeter, alongside sophisticated management of existing transport corridors and infrastructure.

Eight transformational projects have been identified by Liveable Exeter across the city as communities which will be served by quality public transport links and based on active travel, including walking and cycling, rather than travelling by private car.

The vision highlights the potential for eight transformational projects:

1: Red Cow Village (St David’s) – 664 homes in a new neighbourhood based around the historic Red Cow Village near Exeter St David’s railway station. It will provide a strong sense of arrival benefits Exeter’s identity, status and culture, a new neighbourhood, including new work space, and use of under-utilised station buildings, as well as space for shops and leisure, work space, and a new Exeter St David’s station building and the refurbishment of Great Western Hotel

2: Water Lane – The Water Lane project can deliver a new community at the scale of a new town close to the city centre, as the riverside site has the potential to become home to around 14,000 people. The vision for Water Lane is as an enterprising, self-sustaining community, a place to work as well as to live close to city’s best loved assets. This will be a walkable place where day to day needs can be met without the use of a car. The plans could see 1,567 homes, a space for expanding leisure attractions near the quay, with low traffic or car-free development with attractive cycle and walking connections, shops and leisure, work space, as well as other community space and a primary school,

3: Marsh Barton – Marsh Barton offers the largest opportunity within the Liveable Exeter programme to deliver a significant number of new homes as part of a mixed use community, with the potential to become more than just a dormitory suburb and become a new town within the city, building on Garden Community principles with scope to deliver up to 5,000 new homes as part of a mixed use community.

Mobility hubs, linear parks and digital connectivity will all take the place of expanding car parks and roads and offer the opportunity to create a ground-breaking development anchored around a comprehensive and sustainable urban mobility network, and the future Marsh Barton will connect with Water Lane and the City Centre, to become a super-connected place which builds on existing under-utilised and redundant infrastructure to deliver world-class sustainable and active travel opportunities.

The plans will see 5,544 homes, remain an important employment and retail area, but with the integration of living and working where uses are compatible, to make better use of riverside location, as well as new work space, and community space and school sites.

4: East Gate – The plans for East Gate would provide Exeter with an enhanced approach to the City Centre from the east, reducing traffic on the Heavitree Road and allowing for improved public transport and walking and cycling routes, the East Gate development is an exciting opportunity for communities in St Leonards and Newtown.

It would include 962 new homes, shops and leisure units, including the new St Sidwell’s Point leisure centre, work space, including a relocated Civic Centre, and community space.

5: West Gate – The plans for West Gate would open up access to the river and canal from the city centre and will provide the Exeter with a new cultural destination on the river. It will expand and connect the park at the heart of the city around the historic bridge and promote active travel across the river with an iconic and Green Bridge over the River Exe at Exe Bridges.

It would include 617 new homes, shops and leisure units, work space, a cultural venue on the river, and a new St Thomas railway station entrance.

Exeter City Council: West Gate from the air showing the garden bridge to what is now Exe Bridge retail park and the BT building re-imagined as a new development

6: South Gate – The South Gate site will establish an improved link between the city centre and the historic quayside, giving greater emphasis to the Roman wall, city gates and Southernhay, linking from Southernhay to the quay. This development with provide Exeter with a new arrival to the city centre from Topsham Road.

The plans include 300 new homes, a greater emphasis on the wall, city gates and Southernhay, retail and leisure units, work space, and retained car parking at Cathedral and Quay

7: North Gate – Uncovering the medieval city wall between Friernhay and Northernhay Gardens, the North Gate site will provide a new approach to the city from Saint David’s along with new residential space in the heart of the city.

It includes 308 new homes, a new living opportunity at density in the heart of the city, retail and leisure space, and car parking retained at Mary Arches, with the scheme assumes ground floor commercial with residential above

8: Sandy Gate – The plans would see 1,050 new homes in a new sustainable and well connected mixed-use neighbourhood, bridging the city and the new and existing neighbourhoods to the east, providing recreational, cultural and entertainment space where Exeter meets the newly formed Clyst Valley Park.

As well as homes, would include shops, leisure, work space, and space for sports and education provision.

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WHAT HAVE PEOPLE SAID?

Richard Marsh, project director for Liveable Exeter, said: “The key aims of Liveable Exeter and the net-zero objective are very much intertwined.

“Our vision is to create urban communities which enable people to be active, reducing impact on our road systems and in turn reducing congestion and pollution.

“Instead of turning to development on the edge of the city, which would place even more pressure on our transport networks, we plan to transform brownfield sites within the city boundary and create purposeful places for people to live and work.

“Our urban communities will be created so people don’t have to drive to access amenities or leisure facilities, enabling us to support an active, healthy population.

“Homes will be built sustainably and to a high quality, existing council properties will be upgraded or retrofitted to improve energy efficiency. Additionally, we will maintain and expand the city’s green setting.”

Exeter City Council’s chief executive and growth director Karime Hassan said that he welcomed the announcement and that Exeter’s bold vision to create more than 12,000 new homes in the city over the next 20 years had been given a boost.

He said: “The Liveable Exeter vision to create more than 12,000 new homes for people in the next 20 years.

“This announcement will assist with the delivery of Liveable Exeter, which will bring much needed new homes to the city.”

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Exeter’s Vision for 2040 includes:

Innovative and Analytical City

As a model of strong local democracy Exeter’s innovative and analytical culture will support communities, businesses, civil society and public bodies to work together to solve the city’s challenges and achieve its ambitions. The city’s institutions work collaboratively with a coherence in pursuit of the city’s vision

Healthy and Inclusive

Exeter will be healthy and happy and local services will support people to live their lives well, in the ways that matter to them

The most Active City in the UK

Exeter will be the most active and accessible city in the UK. With a high-quality built environment and green spaces, arts and cultural facilities, the city will serve to encourage healthy, active lifestyles

Accessible World Class Education

All residents will have access to world-class education and training, as well as meaningful, high-quality employment with fair wages. The lifechanging benefits of access to and participation in arts, culture and physical activity will be realised. Employers will be able to recruit, nurture and retain a skilled local workforce as well as attracting the best global talent

Liveable and Connected

Exeter will be a thriving city, within a network of thriving rural and coastal towns and villages. Urban planning will protect and enhance Exeter’s exceptional natural and historic environment, safeguard its iconic landscape setting, and encourage high-quality design that complements and enhances the city’s heritage.

A Leading Sustainable City

Exeter will be a carbon neutral city by 2030 and recognised as a leading sustainable city and a global leader in addressing the social, economic and environmental challenges of climate change and urbanisation. The Exeter of the future will have grasped the opportunities ahead of us today

Culture

Under its UNESCO City of Literature status, Exeter will innovate and lead in the area of the environment, wellbeing, cultural literacy, creative making and heritage innovation to build a living city where everyone thrives

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