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

NEWS  ⁄  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.

Co-living - discover a new way to rent

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

NEWSWIRE

Exeter in brief - January 2023

Keeping you up to date with local news that matters.

, updated

Is the grass really greener in Exeter city centre?

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Council lottery operator to take cut from local charitable donations

ANALYSIS  ⁄  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.

Exeter City Futures falsely claims development fund documents disclosed under FOI legislation

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Futures falsely claims development fund documents disclosed under FOI legislation

Senior council director puts company on collision course with Information Commissioner's Office as significant governance failings emerge after councillors and public kept in dark over Liveable Exeter financing scheme proposals.

Exeter City Living put council at "significant financial risk" after £2.2 million loss in first two years

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Living put council at "significant financial risk" after £2.2 million loss in first two years

Missing business plan, lack of transparency and conflicts of interest among senior council directors prompt board resignations and governance review at council-owned and funded company.

Information Commissioner to investigate university over student accommodation numbers refusal

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Information Commissioner to investigate university over student accommodation numbers refusal

Compliance failure follows university admission that nearly 39,000 students based at Exeter campuses in 2021-22, suggesting around three quarters of city's private rented housing stock occupied by students.

NEWSWIRE

Exeter in brief - December 2022

Local news that matters

, updated

University holds public consultation on 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment design

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

University holds public consultation on 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment design

Outline plans to demolish 30 buildings and construct 50,000m2 of student accommodation on fifteen acre Streatham campus site did not comply with university or council environmental policies.

Figures show declining Exeter walking and cycling rates as active travel delivery falls by the wayside

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Figures show declining Exeter walking and cycling rates as active travel delivery falls by the wayside

County council plans to remove Queen Street active travel infrastructure despite road space reallocation commitments expose equivocal city transport policy aim.

Pinhoe, St Loye's and Topsham all in new Exeter East and Exmouth constituency under revised changes

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Pinhoe, St Loye's and Topsham all in new Exeter East and Exmouth constituency under revised changes

Final boundary commission consultation follows city council proposal to move marginal Pinhoe to safe Conservative seat and keep Priory Labour stronghold in city.

University says 39,000 students – nearly 30% of city's population – based at Exeter campuses in 2021-22

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

University says 39,000 students – nearly 30% of city's population – based at Exeter campuses in 2021-22

Freedom of information request reveals 11,500 more students than published FTE figures with major implications for council planning policy but university refuses to disclose numbers in PBSA vs residential housing stock.

Heavitree Road developer gets sixth pitch for student/co-living complex

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Heavitree Road developer gets sixth pitch for student/co-living complex

Eight design iterations, six council meetings, four consultation rounds and two deferrals combine to impede public participation in planning process on key Liveable Exeter site and increase chances of decision being overturned at appeal.

Flood risk threatens to sink Haven Banks redevelopment plans

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Flood risk threatens to sink Haven Banks redevelopment plans

Proposals for 434 rental units accommodating up to 1,167 people on 1.7 hectare Liveable Exeter site would deliver extreme housing densities that deny amenity to prospective occupants while inflicting significant impacts on existing residents.

Will council seek investment zone status for Liveable Exeter sites?

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Council borrowing nearly triples in three years as property acquisition and development loans mount

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Council borrowing nearly triples in three years as property acquisition and development loans mount

Freedom of information request reveals five paragraph "outline business plan" for £55 million Guildhall shopping centre investment.

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

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Council paves way for 186-bed "co-living" block in Summerland Street

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Council paves way for 186-bed "co-living" block in Summerland Street

Freedom of information request reveals intended scale of development after executive committee takes decision behind closed doors.

Exeter Development Fund: rent extraction, unaffordable housing and gentrification, but not net zero

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Property development promotion as community planning participation

COMMENT  ⁄  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?

St James HMO conversion refusal overturned at appeal

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

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.

Progressive Group planning enforcement proposal adopted despite public Labour rejection

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

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

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Net Zero Exeter accountability under scrutiny

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Exeter greenhouse gas report disregards hundreds of thousands of tonnes of annual city emissions

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

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.

Exeter beset by unaffordable housing, low graduate retention and economically inactive over 50's

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

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.

Bundling boards

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Council rejects calls for greater community involvement in Exeter planning policy and decisions

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

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.

Will Exeter College fence off Exwick community playing fields?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Will Exeter College fence off Exwick community playing fields?

Exeter College redevelopment plans at Exwick and Flowerpot Playing Fields threaten a three metre fence around publicly-accessible playing fields and their replacement with artificial turf. Will it change course after widespread objections?

Labour councillors appointed to all fourteen city council committee chairs at annual meeting

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Labour councillors appointed to all fourteen city council committee chairs at annual meeting

Council leader falsely claims "overwhelming majority" voted Labour in Exeter local elections while circumvention of council decision-making scrutiny continues.

Greens take three seats from Labour so Progressive Group replaces Conservatives as official opposition

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Greens take three seats from Labour so Progressive Group replaces Conservatives as official opposition

Conservative loss in Topsham among significant vote share changes in 2022 Exeter City Council elections suggesting city's political landscape in flux.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Coda: Council tax

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Coda: Council tax

The last part of our 2022 local elections series is a coda examining Exeter Labour's claim that the city has one of the lowest rates of council tax in the country.

2022 Exeter local elections guide

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

2022 Exeter local elections guide

City council elections take place on Thursday 5 May. Our essential guide highlights who's standing where, wards to watch and what the results might look like and mean. We also outline their context and explain when, where and how to vote.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part III: Climate & environment

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part III: Climate & environment

The third in our 2022 local elections series examines Exeter Labour claims about climate crisis leadership, renewable energy, recycling, retrofitting and development standards as well as decisions to scrap council and city decarbonisation goals.

Brownfield or green?

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Low attendance levels among some councillors mean Exeter electors get varying value for their votes

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Low attendance levels among some councillors mean Exeter electors get varying value for their votes

As part of our 2022 Exeter local elections coverage we have assessed the past year's attendance figures for public council meetings as a measure of councillor commitment to their constituents.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part II: Economy & city centre

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part II: Economy & city centre

The second in our 2022 local elections series examines Exeter Labour claims about the city centre and Exeter's wider economy, including its misrepresentation of content marketing materials as authoritative sources of information about the city.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part I: Exeter's housing crisis

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part I: Exeter's housing crisis

The first instalment in our 2022 local elections coverage examines Exeter Labour claims related to the housing crisis overtaking the city.

Exeter City Council abandons city 2030 decarbonisation "ambition"

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter City Council abandons city 2030 decarbonisation "ambition"

Unannounced decision to exclude scope 3 emissions constituting around 43% of Exeter's carbon footprint from "net zero" plans effectively ensures city will not meet its decarbonisation goals.

Council reveals plan for "Pods in Exeter's Sky" to beat city congestion

BLOG

Council reveals plan for "Pods in Exeter's Sky" to beat city congestion

Exeter City Futures proposal connects key city sites with a network of Alpine-style cable cars as an alternative to traffic improvement measures.

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

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Why does Exeter City Council evade public scrutiny of Exeter City Living property development decisions?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Why does Exeter City Council evade public scrutiny of Exeter City Living property development decisions?

Significant decisions concerning the council-owned company are being taken in secret despite transparency legislation and assurances when it was created, with governance and scrutiny arrangements also potentially putting the council at risk.

Council consultants confirm 58% of Exeter's university students live in city's residential housing stock

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Council consultants confirm 58% of Exeter's university students live in city's residential housing stock

2021-22 university figures suggest there are now more than 4,500 student HMOs in the city, consistent with ONS findings, with number set to surpass Exeter's council housing provision.

Exeter City Futures secondment decision may be unlawful

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Futures secondment decision may be unlawful

Backbench city councillors denied scrutiny call-in powers to challenge controversial decision to send chief executive and senior director to work for private company.

£55 million Guildhall shopping centre decision may breach local government transparency rules

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

£55 million Guildhall shopping centre decision may breach local government transparency rules

Exeter City Council decision to purchase and redevelop shopping centre may be unlawful, ineffective and subject to judicial review, increasing already significant commercial investment risks.

We heart climate crisis

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Decision to send council CEO and director to work for Exeter City Futures is "disservice to citizens"

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Decision to send council CEO and director to work for Exeter City Futures is "disservice to citizens"

City council disregards governance, risk and conflict of interest issues despite cross-party challenges and conflates decarbonisation agenda with property development financing scheme.

In other urban sprawl news

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Exeter decarbonisation plans found wanting in nationwide council climate action plan study

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter decarbonisation plans found wanting in nationwide council climate action plan study

Somerset West and Taunton highest scoring local authority area with East Devon in third place nationally in comprehensive Climate Emergency UK analysis.

Pennsylvania petitioners expose fifteen years of flawed student accommodation policy-making

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Pennsylvania petitioners expose fifteen years of flawed student accommodation policy-making

City council policies based on faulty premises, inaccurate information and miscalculated projections have failed to prevent mass student occupation of Exeter residential housing stock despite the proliferation of Purpose Built Student Accommodation across the city.

Money for nothing

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Exeter City Council approves second Harlequins "co-living" block, sealing fate of Paul Street

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter City Council approves second Harlequins "co-living" block, sealing fate of Paul Street

Previously rejected vision will now form basis of "abysmal" and "poorly thought through" Liveable Exeter development of 383 "units of accommodation" with increased proportion of substandard studios but reduced economic value to city.

Net Zero Exeter 2030?

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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?

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Greens call for evidence-based Exeter carbon budget as city council clings to net zero rhetoric

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Greens call for evidence-based Exeter carbon budget as city council clings to net zero rhetoric

The Net Zero Exeter plan lacks baseline emissions figures, recognised scope definitions and measurement and reporting frameworks, placing the city's decarbonisation agenda at risk. The opportunity for Exeter to demonstrate genuine climate crisis leadership nevertheless remains.

Prospects improve for pop-up Paris Street and Sidwell Street tenants wanting to stay on development site

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Prospects improve for pop-up Paris Street and Sidwell Street tenants wanting to stay on development site

Council leader Phil Bialyk says it will be "some years" before planned CityPoint redevelopment affects repurposed retail units, and that council "would want" to accommodate artistic and cultural initiatives and independent local businesses "should they wish to remain".

May the force be with UNESCO

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

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

ANALYSIS  ⁄  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.

Exeter City Council scraps own "unachievable" carbon emissions target

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Proposed Exeter parliamentary constituency changes pit Priory against Pinhoe

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Proposed Exeter parliamentary constituency changes pit Priory against Pinhoe

City council responds to boundary commission consultation by proposing Conservative East Devon takes marginal Pinhoe and city keeps Priory Labour stronghold instead.

Exeter Digest #6: Liveable Exeter Place Board double bill - Scrutiny under scrutiny - Catastrophic climate change or cake?

In the sixth edition of our newsletter we review key stories from the past few weeks, get some perspective on our predicament and find some unlikely claims on a local Labour leaflet.

City council outsourcing Exeter local government to unaccountable Liveable Exeter Place Board

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

City council outsourcing Exeter local government to unaccountable Liveable Exeter Place Board

An Exeter Observer investigation of Liveable Exeter Place Board has found that it is a de facto decision-making and governance body which exercises public functions with the potential to affect everyone who lives and works in Exeter.

Freedom of information requests reveal Liveable Exeter Place Board "chumocracy" overseeing the city

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Freedom of information requests reveal Liveable Exeter Place Board "chumocracy" overseeing the city

Despite the significance of Liveable Exeter Place Board's role in determining the city's future, its members are selected and appointed on a secretive, informal basis.

Harlequins developer plans to scrap hotel to build second "co-living" block on shopping centre site

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Harlequins developer plans to scrap hotel to build second "co-living" block on shopping centre site

Existing planning approval will be factor in decision to return to earlier, rejected, vision which would mean 378 studios and "cluster flat" rooms along Paul Street.

Free to those who can afford it

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Positive Light Projects opens community arts centre despite CityPoint redevelopment threat

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ARTS & CULTURE

Positive Light Projects opens community arts centre despite CityPoint redevelopment threat

Parts of Exeter city centre are experiencing an unplanned renaissance as small shops and cultural venues move in to fill empty units on Paris Street and Sidwell Street, but uncertainty remains as the council still plans to demolish and redevelop.

Partnership agreement of the week

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

River Exe green spaces and heritage harbour site threatened by "Liveable Exeter" development scheme

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

River Exe green spaces and heritage harbour site threatened by "Liveable Exeter" development scheme

Exeter Civic Society and Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors raise alarm at prospect of Exeter City Council development in river valley park and historic canal basin.

University drops environmental standards for huge student flats development with council approval

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

University drops environmental standards for huge student flats development with council approval

University of Exeter and Exeter City Council both ignore own policies in plans to demolish 30 buildings and construct 50,000m2 of new student accommodation, telling us more about their priorities than their climate leadership claims.

Longbrook Street PBSA gifted second life

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

South West Exeter district heating network plan abandoned

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

South West Exeter district heating network plan abandoned

Property developers refuse to back scheme despite local authorities committing £7.3 million to project to supply 2500 new homes with waste heat from Marsh Barton incinerator, Exeter's largest single source of carbon emissions.

Marking their own homework

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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...

Did Exeter's local elections results tell a Labour success story?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Did Exeter's local elections results tell a Labour success story?

Exeter Labour lost just one seat in the city council elections and held all seven of its county hall seats, but on closer inspection its performance was more mixed than these headline results imply.

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

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Exeter Digest #2: Exeter local elections guide - Majority want net zero by 2030 - Council meetings to resume in person

With the local elections a week today and a bank holiday weekend on its way we thought we'd publish our second edition a day early to give you extra time to take your pick of our top stories.

High Court rules council meetings must resume in person after local elections

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

High Court rules council meetings must resume in person after local elections

Case seeking judgement to allow local authority meetings to continue remotely when temporary coronavirus regulations expire fails to override requirement for primary legislation.

So many questions

NOTES & SKETCHES  ⁄  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”...

2021 Exeter local elections guide

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

2021 Exeter local elections guide

Elections for Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and the Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner are taking place in Exeter on 6 May. Our essential election guide highlights wards and divisions to watch, changes taking place and how, when and where to vote.

Council announces plan to produce "Exeter the Musical" at city's Corn Exchange

BLOG

Council announces plan to produce "Exeter the Musical" at city's Corn Exchange

Exeter City Council has announced a plan to produce a musical theatre extravaganza billed as "an ambitious celebration of a better life in the world's most world-class city" as part of its UNESCO City of Literature celebrations.

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

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Maclaines Warehouses development tests Exeter Heritage Harbour status

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Maclaines Warehouses development tests Exeter Heritage Harbour status

Decisions taken behind closed doors in favour of commercial interests threaten maritime and waterway heritage vision for Exeter's historic quay and canal basin.

£37.5 million council maintenance backlog caused by underinvestment to be part-funded by asset sales

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

£37.5 million council maintenance backlog caused by underinvestment to be part-funded by asset sales

Exeter City Council has allowed property assets to deteriorate while prioritising new schemes including the £44 million St Sidwell's Point leisure centre, forcing it to identify assets for sale to pay its outstanding repair bills.

Door to door campaigning for May local elections to go ahead after all

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Door to door campaigning for May local elections to go ahead after all

Government announces relaxation of coronavirus restrictions on election canvassing from next Monday 8 March in step with planned lockdown rule changes.

Council pushes back on Liveable Exeter Place Board scrutiny following membership change

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Council pushes back on Liveable Exeter Place Board scrutiny following membership change

Exeter City Council has responded to an enquiry about disproportionate Church of England representation on the Liveable Exeter Place Board by accusing Exeter Observer of promoting a "partisan narrative" and claiming our public interest reporting "bears no resemblance to fact".

Report places Devon County Council among UK's top local authority fossil fuel investors

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Report places Devon County Council among UK's top local authority fossil fuel investors

£157 million of Devon Local Government Pension Scheme is invested in companies including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, BHP, Anglo American and ExxonMobil despite local authority climate emergency declarations and carbon reduction commitments.

May local elections to go ahead despite COVID-19 challenges

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

May local elections to go ahead despite COVID-19 challenges

Ban on doorstep canvassing and door to door leaflet distribution likely to favour the two major parties on 6 May as postal and proxy voting encouraged in Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

District heating network planned for new South West Exeter development

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

District heating network planned for new South West Exeter development

Local councils are investing up to £7.3 million in a £23 million project to supply a development of 2500 homes with heat which depends on the Marsh Barton waste incinerator, Exeter's largest single source of carbon emissions.

First Liveable Exeter homes are substandard "warehousing for people" which is student accommodation "in all but name"

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

First Liveable Exeter homes are substandard "warehousing for people" which is student accommodation "in all but name"

Harlequins shopping centre redevelopment approved by Exeter City Council includes 251 co-living units in seven storey tower block despite widespread opposition from conservation charities and community campaigners who have since appealed to the Secretary of State to call in the decision.

Hospital creates parking for 200 cars despite city climate crisis goals

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Hospital creates parking for 200 cars despite city climate crisis goals

Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital says new parking "temporary" but no end-date given in planning application and no hard evidence of need provided.

Exeter City Council executive members take direct control of city planning decisions

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council executive members take direct control of city planning decisions

Council's executive now possesses majority on city planning committee, with council leader and planning portfolio holder also included despite national guidance, offering basis to challenge decisions and increasing democratic deficit.

Is the "Net Zero" Exeter plan fit for purpose?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is the "Net Zero" Exeter plan fit for purpose?

Exeter City Futures' carbon reduction plan ignores over a million tonnes of carbon emissions and massively underestimates the challenges facing the city.

Unelected Liveable Exeter Place Board created to oversee city from the shadows

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Unelected Liveable Exeter Place Board created to oversee city from the shadows

Exeter City Council has convened an unelected board that meets in private, does not publish its discussions or decisions and is taking responsibility for major policies which will determine Exeter's future.

Exeter rough sleepers in COVID-19 emergency accommodation face uncertain future

ANALYSIS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Exeter rough sleepers in COVID-19 emergency accommodation face uncertain future

Exeter City Council has yet to confirm whether it will use any of the £2.15m Rough Sleeping Initiative funding it has received since 2018 to keep housing rough sleepers when government emergency accommodation funding runs out.

Exeter City Council accepts climate emergency plan to make city carbon neutral by 2030

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter City Council accepts climate emergency plan to make city carbon neutral by 2030

Chief Executive warns that resourcing the plan is "problematic" given COVID-19 financial challenges and that lack of resources limits the council's capacity for immediate practical action.

Coronavirus halts decision to spend £3.9 million on car park repairs and upgrade

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Coronavirus halts decision to spend £3.9 million on car park repairs and upgrade

Exeter City Council spending plans will be revisited in June at same time as Net Zero Exeter carbon reduction plan is discussed by Executive.

Exeter's first "zero carbon" housing development includes 96 car parking spaces for 40 homes

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter's first "zero carbon" housing development includes 96 car parking spaces for 40 homes

Exeter City Council has approved plans to develop land at Pinhoe with a parking ratio of 2.4 cars per household as part of an "exemplar scheme for future residential development in the city" while accepting that zero carbon construction comes "at a cost to the provision of affordable housing".

Exeter rough sleepers night shelter to open all year round

NEWS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Exeter rough sleepers night shelter to open all year round

Exeter City Council has approved plans to extend Magdalen Street night shelter opening from April to the end of September.

Exeter City Council announces £1.584m April budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 restrictions

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council announces £1.584m April budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 restrictions

Council revenues have fallen dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting a £6.357 million capital spending deferment. But financial support from government has so far been limited.

Half of COVID-19 support grants unclaimed by Exeter businesses

NEWS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Half of COVID-19 support grants unclaimed by Exeter businesses

Exeter City Council in bottom third of local authorities as only 45% of eligible local businesses claim government coronavirus support money.

Is Exeter finally responding to the climate emergency?

COMMENT  ⁄  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 climate strike anniversary march brings junction to standstill

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter climate strike anniversary march brings junction to standstill

Protestors form human chain around County Hall to highlight Devon County Council's role as key regional climate policy decision-maker after Exeter City Council confiscates banners promoting carbon neutral blueprint policies.

Exeter net zero housing revolution takes root in Chestnut Avenue

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter net zero housing revolution takes root in Chestnut Avenue

Exeter City Council is taking exploratory steps from talking about a zero carbon future to delivering one with a pilot housing project in Wonford.

Exeter & East Devon council accounts delayed by Grant Thornton's "lack of staff resources"

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter & East Devon council accounts delayed by Grant Thornton's "lack of staff resources"

Annual accounts for local government, including Exeter City Council, have been delayed by private sector firms failing to complete their work on time after cost-cutting government auditing reforms.

Conservatives hold Topsham in Exeter city council by-election

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Conservatives hold Topsham in Exeter city council by-election

A by-election held on general election day produced an unusually high turnout but a lower Conservative vote share than at the May local elections.

Exeter City Council cuts scrutiny of executive decision-making

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council cuts scrutiny of executive decision-making

Constitutional changes proposed by Exeter City Council will make it more difficult to hold the ruling political group to account.

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

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

We already know what to do about the climate crisis. We must get on with doing it as fast as we can.

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

We already know what to do about the climate crisis. We must get on with doing it as fast as we can.

Exeter and Devon council leaders must begin rapid regional decarbonisation now. The quickest, cheapest way to cut emissions in Exeter is to deter combustion engines from entering the city. Clean air legislation offers a basis for action.

Caught short - balancing the books in a hurry

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Caught short - balancing the books in a hurry

Exeter City Council has unapologetically confirmed its decision to close 13 public toilets as a money-saving measure with full knowledge of its expected effect on residents and visitors. Can we expect other spending cuts to be handled the same way?

Mount Radford Lawn development proposals conflict with St Leonards community vision

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Mount Radford Lawn development proposals conflict with St Leonards community vision

Exeter Deaf Academy hopes to sell a school playing field to developers who plan to build luxury homes. Local residents have other ideas about how best to use the land. A dispute is looming over an historic green space driven by prospective profit from planning gain.

Exeter Labour loses local elections in all three city centre wards

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter Labour loses local elections in all three city centre wards

Voters in Exeter yesterday elected three new councillors to represent them in the key wards that cover the city centre, with all the city's ruling Exeter Labour group candidates missing out despite the party's confident campaign.

Local resident stands as independent candidate in Exeter elections

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Local resident stands as independent candidate in Exeter elections

Jemima Moore is a 36 year-old part-time primary school teacher and mother of two young children with little political experience. So why has she decided to stand for election to Exeter City Council on 2 May?

Clifton Hill sports centre – the background

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Clifton Hill sports centre – the background

Storm Emma met the Beast from the East and dumped a huge amount of snow on the roof of Exeter's Clifton Hill sports centre, setting off a chain reaction which has ignited two campaigns and put Exeter City Council's approaches to competence and openness into sharp focus.

Is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan GESPing for air?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan GESPing for air?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan has been a long time in gestation. When it finally arrives, will it deliver?

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