Plans for new homes for the people of Exeter at two key sites
Published: 30 November 2023
The build up to Christmas is in full swing in Exeter - the lights are on, the Christmas market has opened and the city centre is looking great.
Christmas cheers people up which is something we all need at the moment with everything that is happening in the world. I recently visited the Christmas market at Cathedral Green and it was great to see it packed with people.
The city centre is also very busy, and I’m pleased the new Wilko store opens at the weekend in the Guildhall shopping centre – it is very good news for the centre and will be welcomed by shoppers.
Many people have already started to light up their homes, and I am pleased to announce that I will shortly be joining them.
The Executive will be dealing with some very important issues this week. Councillors will discuss how to bring forward much-needed housing at two very important sites in the city – Clifton Hill and Mary Arches car park. The Council will be making these sites viable for housing, which is what we have always planned to do.
We have always said in terms of Clifton Hill we will only be building on the site that was previously built on, and that is what is being recommended. It means we won’t be building on the green space behind the former sports centre, and the golf driving range and ski slope will remain.
Our officers have the role of securing the best deal possible for the Council. But notwithstanding the advice from officers, I have to weigh up all the considerations to ensure we get the best deal for our communities.
Another key site where we want to create housing is Mary Arches car park. There has been an issue with the car park for some time and it would require a lot of investment to put it right. To make that site available for future housing and homes for the people of Exeter is important, and this has always been our preferred option.
Both of these recommendations do not include purpose-built student accommodation - and I will now await the report from directors on how we can bring these sites forward to create the homes that we need in Exeter. We said we wouldn’t be building student accommodation on Council land, and we said we would bring these sites forward for homes. That is what we are going to do.
Executive will also discuss the new CIL funding charges - the charge developers pay for projects in Exeter – which will be introduced from January, after they were approved by an independent examiner, and these reflect the market going forward.
Councillors will also discuss the new Article 4 Direction, which restricts the ability to convert regular homes into Houses of Multiple Occupation. This has been consulted on and approved by an inspector and will be introduced after we legally need to wait for 12 months.
Consultation on the Exeter Plan is continuing, and I would urge everyone to have their say on how the city should develop over the next 20 years. It is crucially important that as many people as possible have a say, as this will affect us all.
There are drop-in events taking place across the city where people can speak to officers, and I would urge as many people as possible to attend these events and submit their views online.
Finally, our fantastic leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point will celebrate a major milestone shortly with its two millionth visit. This is a major achievement and further proof the centre has proved hugely popular since it opened in the spring of 2022.
It has won a host of awards and attracted attention from all over the country as the UK’s fist super energy efficient Passivhaus leisure centre. This was a major investment for the Council, designed to provide the best possible facilities for residents in the city, and I couldn’t be more pleased to see how successful it has become.