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Plans for new Exeter retail park are back AGAIN

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 8:50am

By Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Artist impression of the Moor Exchange retail plans (image taken from Design and Access statement with the application submitted by CPG)

The £40m Moor Exchange would be built near Honiton Road.

At that meeting, when two other retail parks were refused, councillors voted by seven votes to four against a recommendation of officers to approve the plans.

But councillors then failed to actually vote on reasons for refusal, leaving CPG deciding that the application was undetermined.

A letter with the resubmitted application says that the Committee were minded to refuse planning permission without clear and substantive reasons for not following the Officers’ advice and recommendation.

It adds: “That was a most unsatisfactory outcome for both the Council and my clients, and for which reason my clients decided that the application should remain undetermined, and therefore they had no option but to withdraw it.”

Two previous plans to build on the site on land North of Honiton Road and West of Fitzroy Road, near the Sowton Industrial Estate had been refused by planners – one back in November 2015 and a second smaller scheme in August 2018.

The third scheme, smaller again, and one that included ‘more facilities for the local community’, was left undetermined by July’s meeting.

This fourth scheme still includes Next, M&S Simply Food, Boots, a drive-through McDonalds, a drive-through Costa as tenants. The other eight units would be filled with a yet-to-be-named discount food retailer, a post office, a newsagent, a bank, a gym, a restaurant, a hot food takeaway unit and a shop, and reduces the overall floorspace of the development by 13 per cent from the August 2018 scheme that was refused.

A statement with the application adds: “There is now greater acknowledgement of the imperative to deliver a hub of facilities to serve the existing and future residential and business communities on the east side of Exeter and that Moor Exchange is the most appropriate site and realistic opportunity for delivering such a hub.

“The consequences of not doing so will be further expenditure that would otherwise be made in Exeter being lost to the internet, and an increase in vehicle miles consequent upon the need to travel to more distant and disparate facilities with associated negative impacts in terms of traffic congestion and air quality.

“The application proposals will deliver a high quality hub of facilities of a scale that is necessary to achieve a viable and deliverable scheme that will fulfil its intended purposes, that will raise the benchmark standard of retail and related provision on the east side of Exeter.”

When the Moor Exchange scheme was discussed by planners in July, officers told the committee it would have “a relatively minor impact on the city centre, and wouldn’t meet a test to refuse an application.”

They added that although it wasn’t “a local centre” as it has a greater scale, it can perform “a local centre function.”

That application had been recommended for approval as it was considered the most sustainable out of the three applications that they considered, as it was the nearest one to housing being built at Hill Barton Vale, has the most balanced mix of uses and the best public transport accessibility to the City Centre, and would not have a significant impact on the vitality and viability of the City Centre or St Thomas District Centre.

Applications for The B&Q site, off Avocet Road, put in by British Land Retail Warehouses Ltd and The WPD depot site, off Moor Lane, put in by Richard Walker Developments Ltd, were refused at that meeting. A scheme for eight new retail units along with three food and drink restaurants at the HQ of Devon and Cornwall Police at Middlemoor was withdrawn ahead of the meeting.

Exeter City Council planners will determine the fate of the application at a later date.


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