2024 community share offer
2024 community share offer

THE EXETER DIGEST

Exeter Digest #15: Bus back better? - Net zero redundancy - Development fund under fire

Our bumper holiday newsletter also covers a St James' HMO appeal, planning enforcement changes, scope 3 emissions failure, cycling and walking strategy delays and property development promotion as community planning participation.

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NEWS & ANALYSIS

ST. JAMES HMO CONVERSION REFUSAL OVERTURNED AT APPEAL

Council failed to provide sufficient evidence to support 2012 planning policy introduced to limit impact of student occupation of residential housing stock.

BUS BACK BETTER? EXETER SERVICES EXPECTED TO REMAIN UNFIT FOR PURPOSE WITHOUT NEEDED CHANGES

Government underfunding and bus sector challenges limit scope for improvement but county council failure to upgrade routes and policy ambitions plus high housing costs make Exeter difficulties acute, undermining net zero aspirations.

PROGRESSIVE GROUP PLANNING ENFORCEMENT PROPOSAL ADOPTED DESPITE PUBLIC LABOUR REJECTION

Newly-published register also reveals council has issued as many planning enforcement notices in the past three months as it has in the past three years.

UNIVERSITY EMISSIONS STUDY CONFIRMS NET ZERO EXETER PLAN REDUNDANCY

Council retains Exeter City Futures’ services despite history of delivery failures and lack of capacity to support defined decarbonisation targets.

EXETER GREENHOUSE GAS REPORT DISREGARDS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TONNES OF ANNUAL CITY EMISSIONS

Restricted scope of study misrepresents scale of city’s impact to produce partial decarbonisation targets while ignoring opportunities to reduce emissions imported by residents, businesses and visitors, guaranteeing net zero failure.

COMMENT

EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND: RENT EXTRACTION, UNAFFORDABLE HOUSING AND GENTRIFICATION, BUT NOT NET ZERO

Exeter City Futures’ private debt-driven Liveable Exeter property development financing scheme is under fire from councillors who say it is based on insufficiently-evidenced assumptions and won’t meet Exeter’s housing needs.

EXETER CYCLING & WALKING STRATEGY FIVE YEARS LATE AND COUNTING

County council soft-pedalling on infrastructure plan which city council says will not form part of new Exeter Local Plan despite Department for Transport guidance.

PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROMOTION AS COMMUNITY PLANNING PARTICIPATION

If the Liveable Exeter property development scheme and its Exeter Development Fund financing and delivery vehicle are already intended to “anchor and underpin” the new Exeter Local Plan, what will public consultation on the plan decide?

NET ZERO EXETER ACCOUNTABILITY UNDER SCRUTINY

Exeter City Council’s response to the climate crisis has so far been characterised by numerous failings. Unfortunately its attitude towards accountability for its actions in this area is also cause for concern.

ON THE AGENDA

NEW EXETER LOCAL PLAN

A consultation on the draft version of the new Exeter Local Plan, which will guide development in the city until 2040, is taking place this autumn. It is expected to begin in late September.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

EXETER BESET BY UNAFFORDABLE HOUSING, LOW GRADUATE RETENTION AND ECONOMICALLY INACTIVE OVER 50’S

Exeter City Council executive ignores key challenges flagged in major council-commissioned employment and skills research report.

ALPHINGTON “ENHANCEMENTS” WILL NOT MITIGATE TRAFFIC IMPACT FROM MASSIVE SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION

County council manipulates public consultation and allocates just 1% of £55 million grant to pedestrian scheme while spending 75% on new roads and increased road capacity for 3,500 new cars expected on greenfield housing estate.

COUNCIL REJECTS CALLS FOR GREATER COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN EXETER PLANNING POLICY AND DECISIONS

Council defends existing approach despite Statement of Community Involvement consultation producing just 17 responses, and won’t do more to promote neighbourhood planning despite prospect of enhanced community powers.

£900,000 TO KEEP MAGDALEN ROAD ONE-WAY SYSTEM DESPITE DECISIVE PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR LOW TRAFFIC STREET

County council misrepresented and omitted key public consultation findings in report and did not publish results until after decision taken in favour of option with only 18% public support. Exeter Observer snapshot survey finds 90%+ motor vehicles passing shops are through traffic.

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Recent stories
Exeter Science Park main building

SPECIAL REPORTS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Council sinks additional £1.25m into struggling Exeter Science Park as company unable to repay £7m debts

Serial scrutiny failures continue as emergency meeting held to increase city council exposure to joint venture to more than £2 million on top of £450,000 project costs plus £950,000 guarantee but rescue plan risks repeating earlier strategic mistakes.

Illustrative view of development beside Gabriel's Wharf

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Revised Water Lane redevelopment plans submitted for outline approval

Application for up to 980 dwellings and up to 320 student bedspaces with 40,000m2 of other uses on ex-industrial site between railway embankment and Exeter Ship Canal obfuscates numerous key issues.

Exeter City Council 2023-24 unaudited statement of accounts cover image

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Annual inspection period begins as unaudited 2023-24 city council accounts published

Special information access rights enabling residents to examine records apply until 12 July as two preceding years' accounts still not signed off and auditor's inquiry into council governance and financial and performance management continues.

Exeter St Thomas station access

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Exeter St Thomas improvement bid rejected as Devon denied step-free access funding for five years

Two-thirds of Access for All money to go to Conservative seats as low-key Department for Transport announcement finds its way into constituency-level news stories and political PR across the country.

Howell Road garage student block illustrative elevation

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Howell Road garage for sale a week after student block redevelopment plans granted at appeal

Developer denied he would 'spin in and spin out and take my profit' at planning committee that approved 'backstop' plans for nine flats on site, saying student block was 'what we want to build'.

Howell Road garage

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

26-bed Howell Road garage site student accommodation block allowed at appeal

St James Neighbourhood Plan community balance aims discounted and council policy and evidence deemed insufficient in inspector's decision to overturn planning committee refusal.

On Our Radar
More stories
Exeter Academy English language school in Sylvan Road, Pennsylvania

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Plan to convert language school to nursery to test credibility of city council active travel policy

Exeter Academy sits near top of steep hill 250 feet above city, far from accessible bus and rail routes, but developer claims local plan compliance in 'demonstrably sustainable location' which is 'conducive to sustainable modes of travel'.

Corner of Fore Street and West Street with St Mary Steps church in the background

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Developers claim council planning committee refusal was 'if not malevolent, certainly misguided'

Appeal against decision to deny fifth additional storey in build-to-rent scheme above Crankhouse Coffee accuses councillors of seeking to 'appease the weight of objectors' orchestrated opinion' against amendments to eleven year-old consent.

Exeter City Council ballot share by ward 2016 to 2024 line graph

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter bucks national trend as Labour support falls 6% and party loses vote share in all but one ward

Independent group, Greens and LibDems all take seats and Conservatives increase share in four wards as Labour stays in control of council after close call in Mincinglake & Whipton, holds in key battlegrounds and third Topsham win.

, updated

Exeter City Council 2024 local elections results party seat distribution

BRIEFINGS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council 2024 local elections results

The votes cast for each candidate with vote share and vote share change by party in each ward, plus turnout and the distribution of seats.

, updated

2024 Exeter local elections guide graphic showing current council seat distribution

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

2024 Exeter local elections guide

City council elections take place on Thursday 2 May. Our comprehensive guide covers who's standing where, wards to watch and the backdrop to this year's ballot, which promises to be the most unpredictable contest in years.

Exeter Labour 2024 campaign leaflet

COMMENT  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Council raids community fund for £6 million to pay for eight year-old food waste collection promise

Emergency decision to finance materials reclamation facility investment taken less than a week before 2024 local elections campaign officially began.

Spotlight
Spring 2024 community share offer

Exeter Observer celebrates five years of local public interest news publishing

Invest in our Spring 2024 community share offer to help us deliver all the independent journalism Exeter needs and make it five more.

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