Exeter City Council is holding a public consultation on the draft version of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for a large canalside development site centred on Water Lane.
SPDs are intended to extend existing local plans to provide more detail on their policies. They cannot introduce new policies into the existing development plan.
The SPD is intended to provide a development framework and design code for the 90 acre site, which is part of the council’s Liveable Exeter scheme, and will inform individual planning decisions about the 1,600 new dwellings and employment spaces that are expected there.
Most of the Water Lane site was allocated for development in the Exeter Local Plan First Review, which was adopted in 2005 and followed by the 2012 Exeter Core Strategy, which proposed the production of a Water Lane development masterplan.
It extends from Haven Banks retail park, where ultra high-density redevelopment proposals have generated significant local opposition, to the Grace Road playing fields alongside Marsh Barton incinerator.
It also includes the former gas tower site which has recently been marketed for redevelopment. Outline plans for a section of the site stretching from Clapperbridge Lane to Tan Lane were submitted in August after the council agreed to use its compulsory purchase powers to enable vehicle access to the site.
The Water Lane draft SPD consultation is taking place in parallel with a consultation on the full draft of the new Exeter Local Plan, which will replace both these planning policy frameworks when it is adopted and which also allocates the Water Lane area as a development site.
However the Water Lane SPD is expected to become a material consideration in local planning decisions concerning the area it covers well before the adoption of the new Exeter Local Plan.
This is currently not expected until December 2025. After adoption, the Water Lane SPD will continue to inform planning decisions on the site, although it may require revision to align fully with the new plan.
The Water Lane draft SPD aims to co-ordinate development proposals across the site by imposing design and infrastructure requirements that would combine to yield a coherent neighbourhood by the time development is complete in around 2040.
The mostly brownfield site presents a range of development challenges including contamination, access restrictions, impact on existing residents and proximity to the adjacent mainline railway.
Flood risk is a major barrier, particularly since the Environment Agency recently said that most new residential development in the River Exe floodplain could only provide uses – including daytime-only uses – at fist floor and above when it forced the redesign of co-living proposals at Exeland House in Tudor Street.
The site is also divided into many parcels of land in multiple ownership making the masterplanning it requires to address its constraints more difficult.
The failure of Exeter City Living, the council’s property development company, to develop less challenging brownfield sites in other parts of the city despite the significant advantages it enjoyed over other private sector developers suggests that viability issues will play a major role in determining planning applications at Water Lane when they come forward.
It is also possible to upload PDF and image responses, enabling residents and businesses to address the SPD as a whole, or in selective parts, as well as the submission of comments or ideas that do not fit into the council’s framework.
The council says it would prefer people to follow its prescriptive approach, which encourages simple feedback and addresses one policy at a time. A printable consultation response form is also provided which reflects the same structure.
Several appendices that are integral to the SPD include an Environment Agency area flood risk map and a summary of “input from the community and stakeholders through multiple engagement methods” that the council says has been used to develop the SPD.
However council officers are available to answer questions about all aspects of local planning policy at all the new Exeter Local Plan public exhibitions above.
Printed copies of all the council’s planning policy consultation documents can be viewed in the reception area at the Civic Centre and in libraries across the city.
Any queries can be directed to the council planning policy team at [email protected] or on 01392 265080.