New shops on land at police headquarters at Middlemoor would cause traffic chaos, according to city planners who have recommended it be refused.
Devon and Cornwall Police have sold eight acres to help pay for what they call a new criminal justice hub.
Work began this summer on building work.
Now developers want to build eight shops, three fast-food restaurants and a gym, but Devon County Council say that traffic access isn't safe enough.
Exeter City Council planners will debate it next week, but have been recommended to turn it down.