Closure of Exeter Bus Station delayed until February 2018
Published: 31 October 2017
Councillors in Exeter have highlighted plans to progress the long-awaited redevelopment of the city’s bus station site.
At an Extraordinary Meeting at the Guildhall on Thursday night, they backed a recommendation to close the existing bus station by the end of February 2018 at the latest.
Passengers will be dropped off and picked up on street during the closure, which will allow for a new bus station and major new leisure complex to be built.
The City Council plans to re-tender for a contractor to build these projects, which it is funding, next spring. Work could start in the winter of 2018, with the new facilities opening to the public at the end of 2020.
The Council will investigate options for the rest of the site after its previous development partner, Crown Estate/TH Real Estate, recently announced it was no longer able to proceed with its plans for a major retail and leisure development at the site.
Addressing the meeting, City Council leader Pete Edwards said: “I want to say right now that our commitment to building a new leisure centre and new bus station is as strong as ever.
"Redeveloping this site has been Council policy for the last 20 years. It has taken this administration to get the plans this far, and it will be this administration that delivers it.
"That is one thing we can all be certain about.”
He added: “We are very proud of the design of the new leisure centre and new bus station, and we won’t be changing that.
"We will then look to re-tender next spring to find a contractor, with work on the leisure centre and bus station starting in the winter of 2018.
"We will be looking for new development partners for the longer term, and I know we have already been contacted by interested parties.
"I think the site lends itself to a mixed use development including offices, housing, retail, cafes and restaurants with some public open space.”
Opening statement by Council Leader Pete Edwards to the Extraordinary Meeting in full:
The point of tonight’s meeting is to discuss our ongoing commitment to redeveloping the bus station.
We will outline how we are progressing plans for the future of the site.
The recent decision by the Crown Estate to pull their retail scheme presents us with some challenges.
Tonight you’ll hear more about how we will deal with these challenges.
I want to say right now that our commitment to building a new leisure centre and new bus station is as strong as ever.
Some people say this is a time to stop and reconsider everything.
But anyone who has seen the state of the bus station or used the Pyramids recently will know that these facilities just aren’t good enough for Exeter.
They are in desperate need of replacing.
That is what the people of Exeter elected us to deliver, and that is what we intend to do.
Redeveloping this site has been Council policy for the last 20 years.
It has taken this administration to get the plans this far, and it will be this administration that delivers it.
That is one thing we can all be certain about.
As I said, the decision by the Crown Estates to pull out has presented us with some challenges.
But it has also presented us with some new opportunities.
We now need to do some design work to change the interface between our developments and what the Crown Estate had planned.
But we are very proud of the design of the new leisure centre and new bus station, and we won’t be changing that.
We will then look to retender next spring to find a contractor, with work on the leisure centre and bus station starting in the winter of 2018, and opening to the public in 2020.
We will be looking for new development partners for the longer term, and I know we have already been contacted by interested parties.
We are no longer tied just to retail, as the Crown Estate wanted.
I think the site lends itself to a mixed use development including offices, housing, retail, cafes and restaurants with some public open space.
One thing we have made clear – it won’t be student housing.
Some people have called for the bus station to remain open for the foreseeable future.
If that happened all the momentum that has built up will vanish and severely weaken the chances of anything happening at the site.
So we remain committed to closing the bus station.
We will de-risk the site - which basically means demolishing the station, cleaning everything up and making it as attractive as we can for future developers.
We wanted to start this process straightaway and close the bus station at the end of October.
But we can’t do this as quickly as we wanted. It will take a few months to arrange for contractors to demolish the bus station.
So as we announced this week that it will remain open until early next year.
I will be moving to alter recommendation 3 on the papers before you to read the bus station will close by the end of February 2018, at the latest, as agreed with the bus company.
A precise closing date will be revealed in the coming weeks.
So why are we doing this?
Demolishing the bus station and de-risking the site makes it much more attractive to future developers. Significantly more attractive.
It’s another example of the public sector working to attract major private sector investment into our city centre.
That is a strategy which has served us so well over recent years.
Exeter has become one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, with one of the most successful economies. It doesn’t happen by chance.
We are committed to protecting our city centre – where 20,000 people work - against all the threats it faces, from internet shopping and out of town development.
That is what this redevelopment is all about.
Lord Mayor, despite the recent disappointments we have had to deal with, we remain committed to seeing this through.
We remain committed to delivering better leisure facilities, a better bus station and a better city centre.
And everyone who cares about Exeter as much as we do should be working with us to ensure that it happens.