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New Sandy Park hotel to go ahead

Local rat run will be closed

Exeter City Council planners in September gave a unanimous thumbs up to Tony Rowe’s plans for a new 250-bedroom, four-star venue, right next to the M5, next to the home of the Exeter Chiefs.

But a condition on the planning permission was that a traffic regulation order for an eastbound restriction was required that would prohibit vehicles travelling westbound between the hotel and railway bridge at Old Rydon Close. A cycle lane will also be constructed on Old Rydon Lane.

Councillors on the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee have agreed to introduce the traffic order, but five councillors abstained from voting after a drawing error by Devon County Council on the map saw the proposed two-way cycle path placed on private land rather than the highway.

Highways officer James Bench said it was purely a drawing error, the council apologised for it, but confirmed that the cycle-way and associated signage would only be placed on the highway and as traffic regulation orders are text based, the error did not preclude councillors from approving it.

Committee chairman Cllr Yvonne Atkinson added: “We follow the text, not any map that may be inaccurate, I have been told. The text refers to it only being on public land.”

Residents of Old Rydon Lane had spoken in support of the road closure, saying that the current volume and speed of traffic is unacceptable, pedestrians are afraid for their safety and have to take evasive steps when traffic forces them into the hedge, it has been used by motorists as a rat run when it is supposed to be a country lane, and there is often absolute chaos on the road because there is no passing places for vehicles even though the road is not wide enough for two cars to pass.

But an agent acting for a local landowner objected, saying that as the drawing showed the cycle way on private land and not the highway, the county has no power to make the order as advertised, and added that no assessment on additional journey times or mileage this would mean had been considered and that there was no suitable facility for vehicles who erroneously entered the road to turn around.

Cllr Hilary Ackland said that she was about not being absolutely sure and that not even an inch was going on private land. She said: “In theory we would approve this, but in practice, we would want to be absolutely clear that the cycle lane is only on public lane. I am not happy about voting for something that I am not 100 per cent about, as I know how litigation works.”

Cllr Ollie Pearson said: “If we are content it is a drawing error and the cycle way is just using the highways, then I am content with it. I support the proposal, but need to be clear, we are not approving the visual representation and it will remain on highway land.”

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter proposed introduced the traffic order, saying: “It is a country lane that has been overtaken by a massive amount of development, and I support the residents who want this.”

Cllr Atkinson confirmed that a TRO is text based, the correct consultation has been done and the cycle way is not proposed to go on any land owned by a private owner.

Six councillors voted in favour of it, with five abstentions.

The order means that the new hotel, to be built on the former Sandy Park Lodge site, can be built.

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.

After the planning meeting in September, Mr Rowe said that the hotel will be a great project for the club to build and an asset for the city and work would start in 2019.

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