Leader column: developing quality housing in the city
Published: 23 October 2019
It will soon be six months since I became Leader of Exeter City Council. A lot has already been achieved, and of course there is a lot of work still to do.
A top priority has been to secure the development of quality housing in the city. Our Liveable Exeter Garden City project continues to make good progress, and we now have a Delivery Board and a new Project Director.
This project is so important – it will see the creation of around 12,000 homes over the next 20 years, without adding to congestion in the city. It recognises the need to create new communities based on active travel rather than the private car, with the growth of green spaces and valley parks to allow people to move in a natural and green setting.
And as I have mentioned before, it is about creating communities rather than just building houses.
Talking of which, it was great to reveal plans for 100 new council houses in Exeter over the next four years to meet housing need in the city.
The Council recently backed an £18 million council house building programme across four sites, with a mix of one, two and three bedroom properties for individuals, couples and families.
Of course we want to build more than 100 council homes. That’s why we’ve applied to create the biggest programme of council house building outside London right here in Exeter. But creating 100 top quality, ultra-low energy council homes is a good start, in reducing fuel poverty for many residents.
We’ve had some good discussions with developers about co-living, as I mentioned in my last column. This will see new purpose–built student accommodation being made available to everyone.
Good progress continues to be made in building Exeter’s new leisure complex at the bus station site. We even found the remains of a Roman Fort under the bus station, which was a great discovery for anyone interested in the history of the city.
The leisure centre is being built the very highest environmental standards.
Since I become Leader, we have declared a Climate Emergency and committed Exeter to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.
This is a massive task and will need the collaboration of individuals and organisation across the city to make this happen.
That’s why we’ve announced major public engagement to help shape the ‘roadmap’ of how a carbon-neural future can be achieved.
I look forward to as many people as possible getting involved and working together to make Exeter carbon-neutral, and at the same time improving quality of life for everyone in the city.
It’s always good when Exeter gets recognised nationally for all the hard-work that goes on in the city. And it seems to keep coming.
Exeter was recently revealed to be the seventh fastest growing economy in the UK in the second quarter of 2019. Everyone in the city benefits from a strong economy, and again we are punching well above our weight.
We have many UK-leading institutions in Exeter – Exeter College is certainly one of them. It was great to recently see so many of our young people graduating from the college at Exeter Cathedral. The college gives our children the skills they need and the skills the city needs as we move forward. Congratulations to all of them.
League tables aren’t everything, unless you are a football fan like me, and I’m very much looking forward to this weekend’s big game against our old rivals Plymouth Argyle.
I’ve enjoyed every moment of these last six months – and I’m looking forward to the next six, with all the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for our great city.