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How Exeter Strategic Plan will affect city

An indoor concert arena with a capacity for 20,000 people could be built in the Exeter area

It is difficult to pronounce and even harder to initially comprehend or care about, but the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan will affect where you live, work, shop, enjoy leisure and get around.

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, known as the GESP, is the major strategic blueprint for the area around Exeter.

Mid Devon, East Devon, Teignbridge and Exeter City Council, in partnership with Devon County Council, are teaming up to create the GESP.

This formal statutory document will provide the overall spatial strategy and level of housing, and creation of jobs and employment land to be provided up to 2040.

Where is the Greater Exeter area?

Greater Exeter is the area covered by East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon and Teignbridge District councils (excluding Dartmoor National Park).

What is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan trying to achieve?

By working together across local authority boundaries we are seeking to develop a plan which responds to how people live in the area. The purpose of preparing the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan is to:

  • Have a joined-up vision and aspirations for the area
  • Meet the area’s housing needs in the right locations
  • Secure economic growth and increased prosperity
  • Provide transport and infrastructure improvements needed to support sustainable growth
  • Conserve and enhance the area’s environment

What is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan for?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan will be a new formal statutory document, providing the overall spatial strategy and level of housing and employment land to be provided in the period to 2040. When adopted, it will sit above Local Plans for each area which will continue to be prepared to consider local level issues. Neighbourhood Plans will also be promoted so communities can continue to be empowered to make the detailed planning decisions for the benefit of their area.

To improve transport around Exeter, the strategy proposals include:

  • trains every 30 minutes, buses every 15 minutes and high-quality cycle routes between Exeter and key towns
  • improve the M5 gateway, A30, A38, A303, A380 & junctions on A35/A361
  • double the number of car parking spaces serving Exeter in park-and-ride sites on all main corridors
  • a comprehensive network of walking and cycling routes
  • a new integrated product which combines sustainable travel modes into a single subscription travel service
  • a modern, reliable and low carbon network of urban bus routes


  • For the GESP area, 2,600 homes a year are needed, meaning over the 20 years of the plan to 2040, around 57,200 new homes will be built.
  • The vision says: “Meeting the need for homes and jobs is challenging and we will need to put more detailed thought into the infrastructure implications. However, we know that there are going to be some key areas and projects where investment is needed, irrespective of where the new homes and jobs are going.
  • “The Councils agree that homes and infrastructure are key issues which the GESP can deal with. As far as is possible, Councils would like to ensure both homes and infrastructure are planned together to provide high quality development.”

What about a new sports and concert venue I heard mentioned?

An indoor sports stadium and concert arena with a capacity for 20,000 people could be built in the Greater Exeter area.

The idea was initially suggested by East Devon District Council’s deputy leader Cllr Phil Skinner and has been supported by Teignbridge District Council’s leader Cllr Jeremy Christophers.

Cllr Christophers said: “There needs to be benefits to the area of the increased level of housing that will be provided.The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan cannot just be a document about housing, but also about infrastructure and more highlights for the area. The proviso of the document is that the GESP area will become a rural city, but it absolutely needs the infrastructure in place, and that has to include all the things that you would expect to find in the city.

“We are seeing what we can provide around an indoor sports facility and a concert arena and to see if it is deliverable to have one in the area.

We are looking at the evidence of need for a sport zone and a concert venue that could host 10-20,000 in the area. We would need to make sure it stacks up financially, but it is welcomed and we think there is a need for it."

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