Leader to reconsider sale of land at back of former sports centre
Published: 17 July 2019
The leader of the council is calling for green open space behind the former Clifton Hill Sports Centre to be saved from redevelopment.
Cllr Phil Bialyk is reviewing the decision to sell the green space destined for housing at the back of centre.
And he said he is looking at retaining the land currently leased to the ski slope and golf driving range.
The leader said the progression of Liveable Exeter Garden City – the city’s housing vision for creating around 11,500 new homes in the city over the next 20 years – should mean building on the green space at the back of the former leisure centre may not be necessary.
He said recent support from Homes England to kick-start the Liveable Exeter vision has brought new opportunities which mean the authority does not need to go ahead with building on the recognised Clifton Hill green space.
The council still plans to demolish the former sports centre building and car park to create much-needed new housing for families in Exeter.
Any decision on the future of the site will need to go before elected members of the council.
Cllr Bialyk said: “I have said I was going to listen and I have. I have been exploring this issue since my first day as leader, as I have with other decisions.
“I have considered the sale and future development of the Clifton Hill site very carefully. I have met with officers and councillors and taken on board the views of everyone. It has been my way since becoming leader to carefully review a number of decisions, and I am considering whether we can save the area behind the former sports centre.
“I would like to keep this space as it is, without proceeding with the redevelopment of the golf range and ski slope.”
He added: “I want to put everybody’s minds at rest now. I am looking to keep the recognised open green space, and I intend to engage at the appropriate time with local councillors and the local community on perhaps whether this asset is transferred to the community – this is all up for discussion, and it would all have to go before council.
“But this is what I want to do and this is what I am trying to do. It all takes time, but the intention is there.”
Cllr Bialyk said: “The ski slope and driving range have leases with the council on our land and these will continue for the length of their term.”
He added: “The former leisure site needs to be developed. I’ve made a commitment, and my party has made a commitment, not to build student houses on that site, we want a development that is sustainable and will add to the balanced community here in Newtown.
“It is a good space. We have never denied that it is a good space. We will develop out the former Clifton Hill leisure site. But I would like to think we can keep the recognised green space for the community.
“It fits very well with Belmont Park, and we have supported the new community building that is there. So it is about building sustainable communities. I would much rather people looked at what we are doing rather than have a fear over what may happen.”