Exeter City Council has paved the way for the construction of a 186-bed “co-living” block on Summerland Street opposite the monolithic 734-bed Cheeke Street student accommodation development.
It has agreed to restructure existing leases on the site, which is currently occupied by several businesses, to enable its redevelopment as a “co-living scheme of in the region of 186 units”.
The scheme would be 40% larger than the six storey 133-unit “co-living” block currently being built on the site of the Gladstone Road ambulance station, which is a similar size to the Summerland Street site.
The resulting development is therefore likely to be eight or nine storeys tall.
The site is included in the new Exeter Local Plan’s proposed “East Gate” development zone.
Its redevelopment for purpose built student accommodation is supposedly excluded by the terms of the new lease.
However there is nothing to prevent students living at the Gladstone Road “co-living” block, the first to come on stream in Exeter.
The city council’s executive committee agreed the lease restructuring in private after excluding the press and public from its meeting on 31 May this year.
The notice of its intention to discuss the issue behind closed doors did not say anything about the intended use of the site.
The council then sought to delay its response to a freedom of information request for the report mentioned in the notice.
It claimed that “the complexity and volume of the information” made it “impracticable” to respond within the time limits permitted by law.
Despite having already distributed the report to committee members, the council cited a regulation which applies only when additional time would be required to locate requested information.
It took two months to release the report, twice as long as allowed by law. It was less than three pages long.