The city museum is the latest Exeter institution to get roped into fronting Liveable Exeter property development scheme promotion.
Top of the bill last night at the first of two RAMM-hosted Liveable Exeter pitches focussed on the future of the High Street was the city council’s chief executive.
In what was presumably a Freudian slip, the museum’s event promo page initially said he was there to explain what was being done to make Exeter a more exclusive city, before it was amended to say “inclusive” instead.
Instead, attendees were offered a potted history of the ways in which the council’s vision for the High Street has supposedly been persistently prescient.
Twenty years ago, we were told, city centre retail’s principal challenge was out of town retail developments, which needed seeing off with big new shopping centres and department stores.
It seems no-one at Paris Street had then heard of Amazon and eBay, both of which were already seven years old, or Google, which by then had become a verb.
It apparently took until 2007, after the council had successfully “overcome” 5,000 objections to the redevelopment of Princesshay, for the internet to become a threat to the very shopping centres and department stores the council had been promoting.
Falling demand for such facilities didn’t deter it from pursuing a Princesshay extension on the other side of Paris Street for the following decade, or from allocating £55 million to buy back the lease on the Guildhall shopping centre last year to “secure its future use” despite already owning the freehold.
Despite this the council now thinks the city centre’s future depends primarily on attracting residents and visitors, who are still apparently expected to come by car.
Whether these new residents are expected to stick around for more than a term at a time is not clear, but the visitor attraction bar was raised yesterday by the arrival of plastic dinosaurs in Northernhay Gardens.
The dinosaurs are being kept behind locked gates, presumably to protect them from angry Exeter residents who are being denied access to Northernhay Gardens for the best part of a month.
Adult entry starts at £12 plus booking fee for those who fancy chewing over appropriate use of public parks with a T-Rex.
Much more inclusively-priced is the free second RAMM-hosted Liveable Exeter promo pitch on Thursday 9 June, where Exeter’s future as a “garden city” will be top of the bill.
Roll up and get your tickets here.