Comment
Empty studios at The Gorge

PLANNING & PLACE

The Gorge stands 70% empty nearly six months after opening as mounting council tax liability looms

Council development director claims developer interest demonstrates need for co-living in Exeter but works have yet to start on all other such schemes.

Clifton Hill redevelopment illustrative elevation

PLANNING & PLACE

Revised proposals to sell council land for co-living and high-spec housing discount site viability issues

Council leader's Clifton Hill and Mary Arches car park sale amendments agreed by Executive without discussing financial consequences, including multi-million pound value losses compelling sale of other assets to cover Exeter City Living debts.

Just Stop Oil protestor George Simonson on the University of Exeter Forum entrance portico

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Just Stop Oil protest puts university fossil fuel financing under spotlight

University of Exeter tops UK fossil fuel funding table following £14.7 million deal with Shell but has more than one close relationship with major emissions producers.

Exeter bus stuck in rush hour traffic

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

The road ahead for Stagecoach

Exeter's bus services remain a topic of criticism, but when buses fail to turn up it's too simplistic to blame the bus company. An interview with Stagecoach South West managing director Peter Knight helps explain why.

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.

St Sidwell's Point cafe

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

City council sustainable food policy is a climate crisis red herring

Proposed changes don't apply to council meetings or most council food provision and are expected to have unquantifiably small impact while diverting resources from major decarbonisation challenges.

Exeter City Council in session at Exeter Guildhall

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council's approach to decision-making is damaging local democracy

Separation of powers and transparency provisions intended to safeguard public interest being subverted while council defies auditor over loss-making company.

Exeter city centre retail area map 2017 and 2022 CDRC data

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is the grass really greener in Exeter city centre?

Academic research placing Exeter retail area at top of green space table was nationally reported, locally misrepresented then repurposed as booster fuel by local politicians overlooking study's social justice focus.

Exeter City Council outline draft local plan site allocations crop

PLANNING & PLACE

Will council seek investment zone status for Liveable Exeter sites?

Government growth plans combine tax breaks with planning deregulation, putting affordable housing provision and environmental protections at risk with little evidence that promised investment zone benefits would result.

Extinction Rebellion UK tour bus outside Exeter City Council's Paris Street offices

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

World car free day ignored in Exeter as Extinction Rebellion challenges council climate inaction

Protestors gathered outside council offices as CEO Karime Hassan posed for photo with construction company development manager at Princesshay promotion.

Exeter City Futures Exeter Development Fund presentation slide

PLANNING & PLACE

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.

E3 cycle route Chard Road modal filter

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

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.

Liveable Exeter community engagement with council development director Ian Collinson

PLANNING & PLACE

Property development promotion as community planning participation

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

Exeter City Futures website - vision & mission summary

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

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.

Rob Hannaford and Karime Hassan at Exeter City Council's June 2022 strategic scrutiny committee meeting

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

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.

Cargo bike carrying kids in Exeter

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

If you think electric vehicles are the answer, you're asking the wrong question

Mike Walton of Exeter Cycling Campaign says we shouldn't be seduced by the motoring lobby into believing that electric cars can create the future we and our children need.

Greta Thunberg outside the Swedish parliament building in August 2018

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Greta Thunberg calls on world leaders for honesty at COP26

An interview with climate activist Greta Thunberg on the eve of the COP26 summit published in partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global media collaboration.

Clifton Hill sports centre

PLANNING & PLACE

Council plans to scrap affordable housing requirement for Clifton Hill sports centre site redevelopment

Council-owned and financed developer cites unpublished report which values council-owned land for student housing despite council decision ruling out this use.

UN Secretary General António Guterres briefs the media

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

António Guterres on the climate crisis: 'We are coming to a point of no return'

An interview with the UN Secretary General on the eve of the G7 summit in Cornwall published as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration.

Net Zero Exeter logo

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is Exeter City Council going to abandon its Net Zero 2030 target?

Review suggests alignment with Devon Carbon Plan, currently aimed at 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050, citing 'technical and financial challenges ahead', although change in policy would require decision by councillors after 6 May local elections.

Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Selective use of statistics presents an unbalanced account of Exeter's economic & environmental status

Exeter City Council's Chief Executive uses statistics to show the city in a good light, but in doing so presents a picture which omits important information about the city's true position.

Exeter City Futures Blueprint for a Carbon Neutral Exeter by 2030 graphic

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is Exeter finally responding to the climate emergency?

A surge of activity about action to combat climate change is taking place in Exeter, including the publication of a carbon neutral blueprint pending a 'mobilisation summit', but detail and evidence is still missing and community engagement is falling short of debate.

Exeter anti-government protest Devon for Europe speaker

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter protest misses its mark by mixing its messages

One of Exeter's biggest ever street demonstrations combined anti-Brexit and pro-democracy concerns to produce a confused protest against government policy.

Exeter City Council public toilet closures Exeter Live Better hoarding

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter could do better - was there no alternative to closing so many public toilets?

Exeter City Council did not need to close thirteen public toilets to balance the books. The money to keep them open was available in reserves, but no mention of this option was made during public decision-making by councillors or officers.

Exeter Youth Strike 4 Climate protestors with banner

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter Youth Strike 4 Climate - the floodgates are open

Exeter is one of the smallest cities in Britain, yet it has produced some of the country's biggest youth strikes. Climate activist Sam Sleeman recounts the story so far and explains what it means to the young people who are creating a global wave of change.

Molly Scott Cato at the European Parliament

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Is EU membership essential to our ability to deal with the climate emergency?

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, visited Exeter during her re-election campaign to explain why the EU and its Green Group is leading the way on a wide range of progressive policies.

Exeter St James period housing stock

PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter St James regeneration

How can the supply of low-cost, incrementally investable city centre accommodation be stimulated to attract and retain creative, technically-skilled young entrepreneurial talent?

Historic Exe Bridge traffic

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Streets are for people, not cars

Cars adversely affect economic output, air quality and wellbeing, take up valuable space when parked and discourage people from walking and cycling when driven. Reducing their use would enhance Exeter's retail and leisure offer, improve public health and attract needed workers to the city.

Recent stories
Stagecoach subsidiary operating companies 2022-23 pre-tax profits bar chart

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Stagecoach South West posts largest losses in sector despite greatest growth in journey numbers

Lowest year on year revenue rise compounded by above average staffing costs increase as £2 bus fare cap continues to prop up passenger demand.

Liveable Exeter Placemaking Charter cover image

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Liveable Exeter Placemaking Charter consultation skewed towards only one of five 'core tools'

Private developers' forum and other major components of new charter not mentioned in council communications, but transparency and new 'culture of openness' to 'help build trust in the planning system' emphasised throughout.

Empty studios at The Gorge

PLANNING & PLACE

The Gorge stands 70% empty nearly six months after opening as mounting council tax liability looms

Council development director claims developer interest demonstrates need for co-living in Exeter but works have yet to start on all other such schemes.

Spruce Close & Celia Crescent development aerial view

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

City council approves plans for controversial greenfield site housing

Key details remain unresolved including future ownership and management of green space and public access restrictions during construction period.

Longbrook Street student accommodation block illustrative elevation

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Top to bottom King Billy student block redesign waved through as minor variation to consented plans

Council throws out Design Review Panel interventions and reneges on commitment to planning committee while developers claim unauthorised destruction of protected medieval wall justified on safety grounds.

St Bridget Nurseries illustrative layout

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Judge quashes planning permission for 350 homes at St Bridget Nurseries in Old Rydon Lane

High Court judgement finds city council did not properly discharge duties or take material considerations into account, council officer seriously misled planning committee and county council failed in statutory local highway authority role.

On Our Radar
All topics

ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY   AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY   COP26 COP26 COP26   COVID-19 COVID-19 COVID-19   CITYPOINT CITYPOINT CITYPOINT   CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE   CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS   CO-LIVING CO-LIVING CO-LIVING   COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE LEVY COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE LEVY COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE LEVY   CONGESTION CONGESTION CONGESTION   COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX   CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE   CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING   DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT   DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE   DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN   DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL   DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND   EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT   EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL   EXETER CHIEFS EXETER CHIEFS EXETER CHIEFS   EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL   EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES   EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING   EXETER CLIMATE ACTION HUB EXETER CLIMATE ACTION HUB EXETER CLIMATE ACTION HUB   EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE   EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE   EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND   EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER   EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN   EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX   EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE   EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK   EXETER ST DAVID'S EXETER ST DAVID'S EXETER ST DAVID'S   EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE   EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER   FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION   FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER   GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS   GUILDHALL GUILDHALL GUILDHALL   HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS   HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP   HOUSING CRISIS HOUSING CRISIS HOUSING CRISIS   LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+   LIBRARIES UNLIMITED LIBRARIES UNLIMITED LIBRARIES UNLIMITED   LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD   LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER   LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY   LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS   MAKETANK MAKETANK MAKETANK   MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON   MET OFFICE MET OFFICE MET OFFICE   MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER   NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS   OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE   PARIS STREET PARIS STREET PARIS STREET   PARKING PARKING PARKING   PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT   PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY   PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY   PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT   PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION   PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH   PUBLIC PARKS PUBLIC PARKS PUBLIC PARKS   PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM   PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT   RAMM RAMM RAMM   REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING   RETROFIT RETROFIT RETROFIT   ROYAL DEVON NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON NHS TRUST   SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET   SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION   SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER   SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY   SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT   ST JAMES NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN ST JAMES NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN ST JAMES NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN   ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE   ST SIDWELL'S POINT ST SIDWELL'S POINT ST SIDWELL'S POINT   STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST   STUDENT ACCOMMODATION STUDENT ACCOMMODATION STUDENT ACCOMMODATION   TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL   TRANSPORT POLICY TRANSPORT POLICY TRANSPORT POLICY   UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER   WATER LANE WATER LANE WATER LANE  

More stories