What is happening in the city this year?
New hotels are set to be built, work on the new bus station and the St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Centre has officially begun, student flats will be towering above the city, major changes will have been made to shopping centres, work down by the Quay is due to finish soon, a new police station will be open, and major work down at the railway station will have finished.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service takes a look at the projects and what the 2020 Vision for Exeter could look like if all these projects are completed.
EXETER BUS STATION
By the winter of 2020, Exeter will have a brand new bus station and a state-of-the-art new leisure complex at St Sidwell’s Point.
The passivhous leisure complex, St Sidwell’s Point, will one of the greenest developments of its kind anywhere in the country, the city council says.
The complex will feature an eight lane main pool and four lane pool for learners, both with movable floors.
There is also a confidence pool, 150 station gym, soft play area, café and crèche as well as extensive health and spa facilities.
Work to replace the current bus station, which was opened in 1964, and is no longer considered fit for purpose, has recently begun.
And a new £300m vision to redevelop a key site in the centre of Exeter has been revealed by the City Council.
The development concept includes housing, offices, restaurants and retail, as well as the possibility of a new multi-use entertainment venue. The time scale Exeter City Council says it is looking at is having it built within five years.
SANDY PARK HOTEL
A new 250-bedroom, four-star venue, right next to the M5, next to the home of the Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, is set to be built by the end of 2020.
The eight-storey, L-shaped hotel, will feature leisure facilities on the ground floor and a restaurant on the top floor, and be a Marriot Courtyard hotel.
The new hotel will include a unique, rooftop glazed restaurant, and access to the hotel be via a purpose built footbridge from the existing stadium complex.
The basement level of the hotel would have a sauna, a steam room and a Jacuzzi, a gym and fitness centre, changing rooms, as well as back office functions such as staff areas and housekeeping.
The ground floor will have ‘magnificent views out to the east and south’, as well as a reception, an open plan bar, a coffee bar and lounge, meeting rooms and a 24/7 day per week Market Place for drinks and snacks.
There will be a rooftop glazed restaurant for 172 covers on the ninth floor of the hotel.
Chief Executive Tony Rowe said: “The hotel is an 18-month build and we are ready to go, so hopefully can start work as soon as possible so we are finished by the Autumn of 2020.”
ROYAL CLARENCE HOTEL
Plans to raise the fire-ravaged Royal Clarence Hotel from the ashes and rebuild it have been approved.
The works would raise the Clarence from the metaphorical, and literal, ashes of a terrible fire which hit global headlines in late 2016.
However, work on the hotel rebuild stalled after the towering crane left before Christmas. Since then, no workmen have been seen leaving or entering the compound aside from those working on the neighbouring, separately owned building where the fire began.
The business behind the historic hotel, Andrew Broadsword Hotels, point towards a ‘complicated’ tender process for the next stage of building which construction giant Kier has yet to win.
“A completion date for the building will be confirmed once the tender process for the final main contract has been agreed,” a spokesman said.
The closure of an Exeter shopping centre is on the cards.
Harlequins Shopping Centre was snapped up by Curlew Opportunities in 2018, a firm notable for large-scale student accommodation developments.
It will become a ‘vibrant and exciting scheme’ according to London and Amsterdam-based corporation.
Tenants trading from the American-style mall off Queen Street and Paul Street say they have been recently told the centre will close in September 2019, and a rolling contract has been agreed until then.
What exactly will happen to the building afterwards remains unclear, but Curlew are confident the city will welcome it.
The Dutch company is behind the major, multi-million pound transformation of Birmingham’s Old Firehouse off Aston Street into a ‘student village.’
Exeter could be getting a brand new cinema, concert venue or casino, as well as a new city centre bowling alley.
Visionary new plans for Exeter’s Guildhall Shopping Centre have been revealed this week by owner Aviva, building on the success of its Queen Street dining quarter.
What has been proposed is the full conversion of the use of existing units to a bowling alley, a leisure unit – with possible uses including a cinema, concert hall or casino – and additional restaurants.
But it looks like WHSmith isn’t making the cut at all in the new ‘Phase II’ vision, despite previous plans seeing the newsagent’s staying put in a downsized unit.
Andrew McNeilly, the centre’s manager, confirmed that the loss of WH Smith and its replacement is “the intention” of the submitted plans, and artist impressions with the scheme show an unbranded unit where WHSmith currently is, with the application proposing a change of use for the space.
The possibility that a cinema is the first choice for the leisure unit is hinted at by proposed signage on Paul Street, at the rear of the unit.
Exeter City Council planners have yet to determine the fate of the plans.
Banning of cars during daytime hours and the partial pedestrianisation of South Street have been incorporated into the developing Exeter City Centre Strategy by the council.
The proposals promote an incremental delivery of a range of proposals for South Street and reinforces the links between the city centre and the quay,
One of the early intervention schemes would be removing traffic from North Street and South Streets during daylight hours, councillors were told.
The “early interventions” which will be explored in consultation with Devon County Council, the highways authority, to produce impact and generate momentum for longer term projects are:
A brand new bridge and boardwalk as part of a revamp of Exeter Quay will be built.
Exeter City Council’s own plans to replace the existing Mallison Bridge, which spans the medieval leats on the north bank of the River Exe, was unanimously approved by planners last year.
The scheme, which will widen the walkway from 2m to 3.5m and reduce the risk of flooding, drew the backing from councillors without any debate at the meeting, with councillors wishing to approve the plans even before the planning officer had finished outlining the application.
Councillors were told that the new bridge would have improved functionality, enhance the performance for cyclists and pedestrians, and would look better.
The joint Environment Agency, Devon County Council and Exeter City Council scheme aims to improve protection against the River Exe to a one in 100 year event for approximately 3,000 residential and commercial properties down at Exeter Quay should be finished later this year
EXETER ST DAVIDS STATION
Work on a landscape-changing £40m train maintenance depot at Exeter will have been completed.
In partnership with Network Rail and the Department for Transport, train operator GWR is expanding its existing Exeter Olds View Depot train maintenance facility next to Exeter St David’s railway station.
It will help an increase in their fleet size in Devon and Cornwall area which will lead to more seats, and more frequent services and is part of a wider programme of improvements to increase the size of the South West railway operation, including new and refurbished trains and station improvements.
The new depot is situated alongside existing facilities next to Exeter St. Davids station and will contain modern servicing, cleaning and maintenance facilities. It will also have an office and welfare facilities for staff.
Construction work has started and will be complete in the 2019/20 financial year.
MIDDLEMOOR POLICE HQ
A new police station in Exeter fit for 21 Century crime-fighting will be ready for 2020.
Ground was broken at police HQ in Middlemoor on Tuesday at a ceremony marking the start of work on the £29m project.
Once complete by January 2020, it will provide a county operational headquarters for Devon which will be the base for up to 450 officers whose duties range from community policing to major crime investigation.
It will also include a state-of-the-art custody suite that will provide 40 police cells and a new and improved public front desk. It will replace the dilapidated Heavitree Road Police Station which is no longer fit-for-purpose, and a similar building is set to be built in Bodmin for Cornwall as well.
Funding for the development has come largely from the sale of police land – with a proposed new development that will create eight retail stores and three restaurant units over an eight-acre site off the Honiton Road that forms part of Devon and Cornwall Police’s Middlemoor police headquarters site.
The new facility is hoped to be ready by January 2020, which will then see the current Heavitree Road Police Station close.
The joint police station and magistrates’ court opened in 1960 but the force says the facilities are no longer fit for modern policing.
It is expected to be demolished and replaced with housing, although there is no planning permission for the site.
The magistrates’ court is due to move into the Crown Court building by 2020.
Former pubs, shopping centres, and land at football grounds are all being turned into student flats which will tower over the city.
Student flats developments at East Park on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus will be built, Summerland Street, the Honiton Inn, St James Park, Quintana Gate and the King Billy are among those that will be built and opened to students by the end of 2020.
Four separate retail parks could be coming to Exeter – although as of yet, none of them have been granted planning permission.
Combined, the retail parks represent hundreds of millions of pounds of investment for the city – and would see shops, gyms and supermarkets offer scores of new jobs, and would all be built around the east of the city.
Plans for retailer parks off the Middlemoor roundabout on land owned by Devon and Cornwall Police, on the site of the B&Q superstore off Avocet Road, at the Moor Exchange site off Honiton Road, and the Western Power Distribution sites off Honiton Road have all been submitted.