NEWSLETTER

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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More Exeter Digest

Exeter Digest #29: Councillor conduct code breach - University comes clean on student numbers - Labour committee chairs

Invest in local news that matters by buying community shares in Exeter Observer then catch up with our top stories, the news in brief, ongoing public consultations and Exeter community events.

Exeter Digest #28: Exeter election results - Council leader code conflicts - Community grants cuts redux

Read all about the 2023 Exeter local elections in our in-depth analysis then check out Maketank's Make Your Own Book festival and a retelling of Romeo and Juliet at Poltimore House.

Exeter Digest #27: County governance failings - Local elections guide - Duryard double standard - Councillor attendance

Invest in local news that matters by buying community shares in Exeter Observer then help us hold the city's political parties to account during the local elections, catch up with the news in brief and browse Exeter events.

All Exeter Digest
News
AirBnB website listing page

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter councillor Yvonne Atkinson found in breach of code of conduct but escapes prosecution

Summary of investigation related to rental property interests involving Devon & Cornwall Police and Crown Prosecution Service withheld by Devon County Council while councillor campaigned for re-election to Exeter City Council.

University of Exeter students 2001-2023 Freedom Of Information Act responses vs published Full-Time Equivalent numbers line chart

PLANNING & PLACE

University comes clean on true Exeter campus student numbers over past two decades

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information Act confirm between 7,500 and 12,000 more students based in city each year than university numbers suggest – until this year – with major implications for council planning policy.

Harry Johnson-Hill Exeter Duryard & St James and Winchester Alresford & Itchen Valley candidate local elections campaign leaflets

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter local elections candidate is also standing in Winchester

University of Exeter student Harry Johnson-Hill hopes to represent voters both in Duryard & St James and at home in Alresford & Itchen Valley, 100 miles away.

All News
Analysis
Closed doors at County Hall

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Closed doors at County Hall for councillor conduct hearings

A survey of local authority approaches to standards committee hearings finds Devon County Council alone in imposing private determination of conduct complaints.

Exeter City Council ballot share by ward 2016-23

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter electoral tectonic plates rumble as political landscape shifts

Labour takes second Conservative seat in Topsham but loses in St Thomas to Liberal Democrats as Green wins in Heavitree, St David's and Newtown & St Leonards place party second in 2023 city council elections.

2023 Exeter local elections guide graphic showing current council seat distribution

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

2023 Exeter local elections guide

City council elections take place on Thursday 4 May. Our essential guide highlights who's standing where, wards to watch and what the results might be. It also covers the wider context, voter ID and the impact of First Past the Post in Exeter elections.

All Analysis
Comment
Exeter City Council annual meeting

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Labour councillors again appointed to all thirteen committee chairs at annual council meeting

Council leader finally quits planning committee alongside other remaining Executive member but persists with secret board that enables scrutiny evasion.

Satellite image showing two minute pedestrian route from The Cottage, Nadderwater to Newbery car breakers, Redhills

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

How far does the council leader have to go before he sees a planning committee conflict of interest?

Phil Bialyk led charge against application to develop site 160 yards from his house despite conduct codes and LGA planning probity guidance.

Exeter City Council community grants budgets including 2023-24 virements bar chart

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Councillor falsely labels community grants cuts story "misinformation"

Labour's Martin Pearce brands Exeter Observer "opposition propaganda" at full city council meeting, earning rebuke from Lord Mayor and putting council at risk of code of practice breach during pre-election period.

All Comment
On the agenda

EXETER CITY COUNCIL is inviting reactions to its proposed amendments to its existing planning policy restrictions on the conversion of residential housing to multiple occupancy dwellings, frequently lived by students, near the university. There are exhibitions from 1-7pm on Wednesday 7 June at Exeter Guildhall, 1.30-7pm on Tuesday 13 June at Newtown Community Centre in Belmont Park and 1-7pm on Tuesday 20 June at St James Church Hall in Mount Pleasant Road. Printed copies of its plans will also be available at the Civic Centre and in libraries until the consultation concludes on 3 July.

A public consultation on a draft DEVON, CORNWALL AND ISLES OF SCILLY CLIMATE ADAPTATION STRATEGY which will attempt to minimise the impact of climate change on the South West peninsula is under way until 30 June. The full draft strategy is here. Publication of a revised, final version of the plan is expected in August before partnership organisations will be invited to endorse it during the autumn, four and a half years after Devon County Council convened the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group to “act now to tackle [the] climate emergency”.

On our radar
All topics

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