Notes & sketches
https://unsplash.com/photos/-QmNbzMrj1M

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Race in pole position

Exeter Labour looks set to pick Steve Race as the party’s parliamentary candidate at the next general election after retiring incumbent Ben Bradshaw anointed his former assistant as his heir apparent in what has been a fairly safe Labour seat since the 1997 landslide...

https://unsplash.com/photos/eHD8Y1Znfpk

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Bundling boards

The third in a series of city council scrutiny meetings intended to satisfy councillors that Exeter Development Fund is a way to put Exeter on the map rather than the council’s financial viability at risk took place last week...

Irrationale by design?

PLANNING & PLACE

Irrationale by design?

The second of two RAMM-hosted Liveable Exeter promotional events, focussed on Exeter’s future as a “garden city”, took place last night with the city council’s Director of City Development, Ian Collinson topping the bill...

RAMM-bunctious

PLANNING & PLACE

RAMM-bunctious

The city museum is the latest Exeter institution to get roped into fronting Liveable Exeter property development scheme promotion...

How to inflate housing costs and influence people

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

How to inflate housing costs and influence people

Despite Exeter’s rapidly worsening housing crisis, the council has continued its relentless promotion of the city as a destination to potential incomers by commissioning a coterie of Instagram influencers to flog the place to their followers after spending a May weekend here...

Tik tok

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Tik tok

The county council-convened Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG) has continued its apparent commitment to avoiding public scrutiny of its decision-making by simultaneously publishing the minutes of six of its meetings (which are held in private without published agendas) at the end of May — despite some being held in March...

Brownfield or green?

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Brownfield or green?

At yesterday’s second scrutiny meeting in the series being orchestrated by the city council to air Exeter City Futures’ ideas about using Exeter as an urban guinea pig for its development fund project it was Frazer Osment’s turn to play the ringer...

Leaderless by design?

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Leaderless by design?

The county council’s plan to delay taking action on decarbonisation, otherwise known as the Devon Carbon Plan, continues to achieve its aim as (bear with us) the county council cabinet responds to its consultation on its response to the Devon Climate Assembly’s responses to the subset of Interim Devon Carbon Plan issues it has successfully avoided confronting...

More talk less action

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

More talk less action

The county council has derived more surprising new insights from the second phase of a consultation on the impact of traffic in Heavitree and Whipton...

Buses stop

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Buses stop

Exeter’s Labour county councillors successfully lobbied County Hall to convene an unscheduled meeting of the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HaTOC) yesterday to discuss the state of bus services in the city...

It's scrutiny Jim, but not as it should be

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

It's scrutiny Jim, but not as it should be

The city council kicked off a quartet of scrutiny meetings intended to pave the way for councillors to give Exeter Development Fund a green light with a session last night that resembled a sales pitch...

Nice work if you can get it

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Nice work if you can get it

Any Exeter-based readers who fancy £144,000 a year to help the government deliver its “Levelling Up” agenda (still only a white paper) in the South West need look no further...

We heart climate crisis

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

We heart climate crisis

Anyone who might have been tempted to believe that the climate crisis is at the heart of everything Exeter City Council does (as it repeatedly claims) need look no further than its response to the consultation on the Devon climate assembly’s output report for clarification...

In other urban sprawl news

PLANNING & PLACE

In other urban sprawl news

A development of up to 80 residential dwellings on a ten acre greenfield site alongside Exwick Lane has been given the go ahead at appeal...

Not such an honourable mention

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Not such an honourable mention

Cranbrook’s appearance in a recent Transport for New Homes report examining new housing developments across England to find out whether they are built around sustainable transport or car dependency does not exactly celebrate the satellite town’s mobility provision...

Has the county council learned its lesson?

PLANNING & PLACE

Has the county council learned its lesson?

Judging by the “ample space” for greenfield business park and housing development promoted in the “Clean Growth Vision for the West of East Devon” it commissioned from City Science Corporation (an Exeter City Futures sister company) for submission to the East Devon Local Plan consultation, it seems not...

Devolution doublespeak

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Devolution doublespeak

Devon is apparently at the front of the pack for a Michael Gove-flavoured “double” devolution deal despite a competing bid led by Plymouth City Council (which wants to combine with the adjacent West Devon and South Hams district councils), next to no guidance on what is on offer from Whitehall, and even less public discussion about the prospect of local government changes across the county...

Democracy inaction

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Democracy inaction

Meanwhile the poor record of the county council-led Devon Climate Emergency Response Group on keeping the public informed about what it is up to reached a new low this month, when it simultaneously published the minutes of ten meetings on the same day, some from as long ago as August...

Must try harder

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Must try harder

The university recently let us know that its carbon emissions were down 19% during the 2020-21 academic year, although as the reductions came mostly from travel that didn’t take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic we look forward to seeing how it will frame what will presumably therefore be an emissions increase next year...

Keep it in the family

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Keep it in the family

Earlier this year the University of Exeter drew attention to the South West’s significant social mobility issues, which it described as “blighting young lives”, when it launched a research project hoping to better understand the region’s challenges...

Money for nothing

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Money for nothing

The Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) closed its consultation on draft changes to the Prudential Code last month, following a preliminary consultation earlier this year. The code governs how much councils can borrow to invest and what forms of commercial activity they are permitted to pursue...

Net Zero Exeter 2030?

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Net Zero Exeter 2030?

Research by University of Exeter students has concluded that local councils need to provide clearer and more accessible information on how they are addressing the climate emergency...

Public sector pay pals?

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Public sector pay pals?

Instead of announcing the biggest council funding rise for over a decade, Exeter City Council’s press team marked budget day by celebrating Exeter’s latest quarterly YouGov popularity rating. The Paris Street PR machine forgot to mention that those surveyed need never have visited the city...

May the force be with UNESCO

ARTS & CULTURE

May the force be with UNESCO

Torbay and Exeter’s joint UK city of culture bid, said to be inspired by the “closely connected coastal and city destinations” despite Brixham and Exeter being an hour and a half apart by public transport, didn’t make it onto the longlist of eight places which have caught the eye of culture vulture and escapee celebrity Nadine Dorries...

Less is more

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Less is more

The University of Exeter published its long-awaited “Strategy 2030” on Monday. It’s a remarkable document, not least because of the Nobel-sized aspirations it expresses...

Exeter City Council scraps own "unachievable" carbon emissions target

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter City Council scraps own "unachievable" carbon emissions target

In an extraordinary reversal, the city council removed the goal of achieving carbon neutral operations by 2022 from its corporate risk register at an Audit & Governance committee meeting last week...

Bonanza on the buses

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Bonanza on the buses

There was no shortage of hyperbole to accompany last Sunday’s opening of Exeter’s glamorous new bus station...

We're all in it together

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

We're all in it together

Last Friday the UN released a report assessing the combined climate action plans of all 191 parties to the Paris Agreement which found that they point towards a catastrophic 2.7°C temperature rise by the end of the century...

It's grim down South West

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

It's grim down South West

Recent synthesis of economic data by Devon County Council doesn’t make for very cheerful reading...

Sound familiar?

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Sound familiar?

A Centre for Governance and Scrutiny report into Nottingham City Council’s “superficial and inadequate” scrutiny mechanisms has been published...

Free to those who can afford it

ARTS & CULTURE

Free to those who can afford it

Torbay Council, Torbay Development Agency and Exeter City Council have “joined forces” to bid for 2025 UK City of Culture status, with their eyes on a prize of £300 million in claimed economic benefits...

Partnership agreement of the week

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Partnership agreement of the week

In a hotly-contested field, this week’s winner must surely be the new Exeter Civic University Agreement, which found its way onto last night’s city council Executive agenda...

Longbrook Street PBSA gifted second life

PLANNING & PLACE

Longbrook Street PBSA gifted second life

Exeter City Council planning officers have approved the renewal of planning permission for an eight storey 108-bed student accommodation block on the site of the King Billy public house which had previously been granted in April 2018 and since lapsed...

On the beach

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

On the beach

The Heart Of The South West Local Enterprise Partnership has confirmed that its bid to house the UK Atomic Energy Authority STEP fusion test reactor in Bridgewater Bay passed the first stage of the competitive site nominations process...

Marking their own homework

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Marking their own homework

Exeter City Council’s ruling Labour group reallocated the city’s committee seats at its annual meeting last week...

Follow the money

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Follow the money

Glenn Woodcock and Roli Martin of Global City Futures were invited to join the board which oversees the Devon Carbon Plan at its meeting last month and given the same decision-making powers as the rest of the board, which is almost exclusively composed of public sector organisations...

So many questions

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

So many questions

Quote of the week must surely go to Exeter City Council leader Phil Bialyk for: “Sorry, chair, I just need to refer to some of my other notes, if you’ll just bear with me”...

Mount Radford Lawn tribunal decision

PLANNING & PLACE

Mount Radford Lawn tribunal decision

The St Leonard’s Neighbourhood Association vision for Mount Radford Lawn has taken an important step towards becoming a reality...

Buzzword bingo!

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Buzzword bingo!

Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership has published its contribution to the increasingly popular genre of “Build Back Better” plans...

No Exeter Pride parade this year

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

No Exeter Pride parade this year

Exeter Pride has confirmed that there would be no Pride march, festival or marketplace this year...

News
Local authority economic activity levels change 2011-2021 census

ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Decline in Exeter economic activity levels among largest in country

Census figures also show population increasing at nearly six times rate of job creation over past decade while healthcare, wholesale/retail and teaching make up nearly half of all employment, reflecting low pay and productivity.

Special educational needs and disabilities protesters at County Hall

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Devon County Council charged with "relentless institutional failings" in SEND children's services provision

Children with special educational needs and disabilities protest alongside parents at County Hall as Ofsted monitoring continues to find serious unresolved issues and key areas that require significant change.

Exeter empty and second homes by council tax band October 2022 bar chart

PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter has more empty and second homes than built in city in past two years

Council tax premium proposals that aim to raise additional revenue from underused housing stock might also encourage return to residential occupancy.

Analysis
Devon County Council National Bus Strategy Bus Services Improvement Plan cover image

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Future of Devon bus services being decided behind closed doors

Devon County Council does not want the public to hear whether local service improvements are going according to plan.

Exeter City Council community grants budgets bar chart

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Council slashes community grants but splashes cash on paddling pools in contested wards

Exeter grants programme budget reduced from £425,000 to £15,000 leaving hundreds of grassroots groups out in the cold as the impact of borrowing takes its toll and council fails to consult on budget cuts despite auditor recommendation.

Lottery graphic

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Council lottery operator to take cut from local charitable donations

Decision to promote gambling as "incentivised giving" plays down risks without assessing potential impacts or evidencing claimed benefits, disrupting relationships between community and voluntary sector organisations and supporters.

Comment
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.

Co-living - discover a new way to rent

PLANNING & PLACE

Council development levy changes are insufficiently evidenced and don't meet city infrastructure needs

Exeter City Council and Liveable Exeter partners impose faulty typology driven by policy objectives while ignoring new local plan, evidence base and statutory funding statement and excluding residential and retail charges from review.

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.

On the agenda

A public exhibition of revised redevelopment plans for the WATER LANE area is being held at Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre from 10am-7pm on Friday 24 March and from 10am-4pm on Saturday 25 March. Around 1,000 high density housing units, including student accommodation and built to rent flats, are expected on the brownfield site. The information on display will also be available on the developer’s website.

The consulation on the draft DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan for Exeter, which is already nearly six years late, closes at the end of March.

Plans to redevelop the derelict COWLEY BRIDGE ROAD Johnsons cleaners site to provide a total of 350 beds of student accommodation in four blocks up to six storeys tall have been submitted for approval by the city council. The laundry facility was badly damaged by fire three years ago and was demolished last year.

A public consultation on a DEVON, CORNWALL & ISLES OF SCILLY CLIMATE ADAPTATION PLAN which will attempt to minimise the impact of climate change on the South West peninsula will be held from 8 May before a final version is adopted 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”.

Plans for an ultra-high density build-to-rent development at HAVEN BANKS have been revised to rely on a Welcome Street bridge being built over the railway in response to Environment Agency flood risk objections.

EXETER CHIEFS rugby club has applied to vary a planning restriction imposed when it was granted permission to double the capacity of its Sandy Park stadium in 2012 which currently prevents its use as a music or performance venue. The application follows the approval of a licensing variation to allow its use as a venue for boxing, wrestling, theatre, film and music events on 30 January.

PINHOE COMMUNITY HUB has resubmitted its application for a new building at Station Road playing fields following the lapse of the previous permission, granted three years ago.

SOUTH WEST WATER is consulting on its draft Water Resources Management Plan, which sets out how it intends to ensure a secure regional water supply and manage its environmental impact, until 19 May.

Detailed plans for the Honiton Road MOOR EXCHANGE RETAIL PARK have been submitted for approval. Outline planning permission for the development was granted two years ago.

The UNIVERSITY OF EXETER has submitted detailed plans for its 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment of 50,000m2 of student accommodation. They include ten storey blocks which are two storeys taller than agreed when outline permission was granted in May 2021.

On our radar
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