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Plans for Exeter "garden city" move forward

Thursday, July 11th, 2019 11:46am

By Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Government money now earmarked for project jobs.

Exeter City Council’s executive agreed to use some of that cash to create several key posts – Project Director, Project Manager, Commercial Surveyor and Planning Officer – to get the project moving.

Chief Executive and Growth Director Karime Hassan had urged the council to back the recommendation so Exeter can maintain momentum and press ahead with its ambitious plans.

He said: “The Liveable Exeter Garden City programme aims to bring forward housing to meet local need in a fashion that is more sustainable and more supportive of wider aims of active and healthy lifestyles, and supporting mixed use neighbourhoods.

“This report simply seeks to put resources in place in order to assist delivery and securing the outcomes identified in the Liveable Exeter housing transformation document.

“It is important to the sub-region and the city that momentum is maintained and in the light of the acute housing supply problem in the city, it is vital that the city drives the programme as it relates to the city.

“This allows us to think about delivery and how we can frame it. The provision of the core team can get this started and we will put in place governance arrangements to direct and oversee and to start to drive the programme.”

He did though offer a note of caution, saying that while the city council were trying to break the mould, do something innovative, and set new standards of development higher than the government sets, the vision may not survive a planning examination.

Cllr Phil Bialyk, leader of the council, backed the recommendations and said it was a very exciting project for Exeter.

He added: “We have an issue with our housing supply land in Exeter and this is part of the bigger picture. These funds are to kick start the project and our vision is bold, but is what we will have to if we are going to transform the city.”

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said that he welcomed the investment and said the Liveable Exeter Garden City project was exciting and innovative, adding: “I thank the current government for giving us the money.”

Cllr Kevin Mitchell, leader of the progressive group, also welcomed the report, saying: “It is clear that we need a strategic strategy to deliver housing in the city that is fit for purpose.”

He proposed an additional recommendation – that the commitment to make Exeter carbon neutral by 2030 be an integral part of the Liveable Exeter Garden City project – but found no-one to second his proposal.

Liveable Exeter highlights the need to create new communities based on active travel including walking and cycling rather than the private car.

It calls for the retention and growth of green space and valley parks to allow people to move around in a natural and green setting.

The executive unanimously recommended approves a budget of up to £750,000 to approve the posts for the team to start delivering the project.

The vision highlights the potential for eight transformational projects:

1: Red Cow Village (St David’s) – 664 homes in new neighbourhood, including new work space, and use of under-utilised station buildings

2: Water Lane – 1,567 homes in a new place to live and work. A space for expanding leisure attractions near the quay, with low traffic or car-free development with attractive cycle and walking connections

3: Marsh Barton – 5,544 homes in a new neighbourhood for Exeter. The area remains an important employment and retail area, but with the integration of living and working where uses are compatible, to make better use of riverside location. Creation of new types of work space

4: East Gate – 962 new homes, an enhanced approach to the city centre from the east, reduced traffic on Heavitree Road and a greater provision for public transport, walking and cycling. New places to live close to the city centre

5: West Gate – 617 new homes, opening up access to the river and canal from the city centre, a new cultural destination on the river, an expanded and connected park at the heart of the city, a Green Bridge promoting active travel

6: South Gate – 300 new homes, establishing an improved link between the city centre and the historic quayside, with a greater emphasis on the wall, city gates and Southernhay, linking from Southernhay to the Quay, and a new arrival to the city centre from Topsham Road.

7: North Gate – 308 new homes, a new approach to the city from St David’s, uncovering the medieval city wall between Friernhay and Northernhay Gardens, a new living opportunity at density in the heart of the city.

8: Sandy Gate – 1,050 new homes in a new sustainable and well connected mixed-use neighbourhood, bridging the city and the new and existing neighbourhoods to the east, providing recreational, cultural and entertainment space where Exeter meets the newly formed Clyst Valley Park.

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