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Leader Column: plans for Northbrook reaffirm our commitment to open spaces

Published: 18 February 2020

Council Leader Phil Bialyk

I want to start with the very important decision made by the Executive last week on the future of the Northbrook Approach golf course.

I am so pleased that that we will be working with the Devon Wildlife Trust, which is a great institution, on plans to create something very special at this site. They are the experts and we can trust them to get the most out of this community asset.

I am hugely excited about the plans that are coming forward for an arboretum, with wild flowers, ponds, new tree planting and a community orchard - it will be such a great place to visit and spend time.

This project adds to the work going on at the Ludwell Valley Park, where we’ve already added 13 acres of extra space. When you look as well at what we are doing to protect the green space at Bull Meadow, and protecting the green space to the rear of Clifton Hill, this is reaffirming our commitment to maintaining open spaces in our city.

This is what we said we would do when I became leader in May, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

There has been attention on street attachment and the rise in urban anti-social behaviour that we are experiencing, and the Council has had to extend the PSPO order for a further 12 months. We are planning to hold a summit on anti-social behaviour in the city centre, and this will allow us continue engaging communities and organisations on what we can do in the High Street.

This will be an open forum, and we want all groups to be participating in this because our city centre is so important to us.

We will all have read the disappointing news about the Riverside and the continuing closure of the pool. The fact is we just can’t open it in the state it is in. We have to do the right thing, and that is what we will do.  But we are determined to resolve this. It’s an important strategic part of our leisure offer. It’s going to be done and we are going to do it right. It’s going to be great when it’s open.

I’m pleased that with the progress being made on our new leisure centre, people are now seeing it rise from the ground. Work is also well underway on the new bus station.

It is great that we are all now seeing it, and I am excited that it will be open next spring and I am really looking forward to it. The most pleasing thing is that it is on time and on budget. The leisure centre is Passivhaus, the first of its kind in the UK. We’re ahead of the game on this building when it comes to climate change, and I couldn’t be more pleased to see it starting to take shape.

It is fantastic news that plans for 93 new homes in Vaughan Road were passed last week. They will all be built to Passivhaus standard, and of course we have commenced a pilot off retrofit on our existing stock at Chestnut Avenue in Wonford. I am hoping that we can bring forward plans that can scale up this work, which is very important in combating fuel poverty.

I will be presenting our budget to the full council next Tuesday. We will be delivering a balanced budget. We are retaining and improving some of our core services, and we are working with communities through the Grants Panel, providing more than £1m to the groups and organisations improving quality of life in Exeter.

We will be publishing the budget statement in full this year, and I hope as many people as possible can take the time to read about the amazing things that we are proud to be delivering in our city.

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