BLOOMING ST JAMES
The Royal Horticultural Society, through Britian in Bloom and It’s Your Neighbourhood, gives awards to community groups for their efforts in developing and nurturing the green spaces in our towns and villages.
In St James the entries have been increasing since 2014 and last year there were 8 awards in the area, each with the following achievements:
Bury Meadow Park – Advancing;
St Sidwell’s Community Centre Garden – Outstanding;
St James’ Park Station – Improving;
Powderham Crescent Garden – Thriving;
Queen’s Crescent Garden Project – Thriving;
St James’ Vegetable Gardens – Thriving;
Devonshire Place Orchard Regeneration Project – Outstanding;
King Stephen’s Close – Thriving.
The St James Village entry which encompasses the all of the sites as well as the roads, gardens and spaces in between them was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal.
We have some great community initiatives in St James that continue to work and maintain many of our very special green spaces. Queen’s Crescent Garden is a major long term project. However we also have St Sidwell’s School with a thriving green space and garden and the Mosque with its own developing garden which could also be part of the It’s Your Neighbourhood awards. There are a large number of attractive front gardens and in the summer, tucked away in some of the small terraces, you can find planters and baskets full of flowers attracting bees and butterflies. But there is still a need for more. It is all about Environmental Responsibility, Community Involvement and Gardening Achievement.
It would be good for more initiatives to get off the ground (sorry about the pun). There are possibilities of support and grants from different sources that can be applied for. If you have an idea for a street or row of houses, or even a disused space, check out the RHS Southwest in Bloom It’s Your Neighbourhood website or contact the Forum for more information.
MEETING WITH GAVIN BARWELL MP
MINISTER OF STATE FOR HOUSING AND PLANNING AT DCLG
Steering Group Representatives with Ben Bradshaw MP outside the DCLG
Steering Group is grateful to the support received from our local MP, Ben Bradshaw, in securing a meeting for Forum representatives with the Minister, just before Christmas, in the wake of the aborted legal challenge and the failure of our Neighbourhood Plan (NP) to protect the community from planning consent for 320 bed purpose built student accommodation on Exeter City Football Club / Yeo and Davey combined site, despite acknowledgement by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) of the development's non-compliance with St James Neighbourhood Plan, and of a worsening existing community imbalance as a consequence.
A joint letter of support for St James Neighbourhood Plan, signed by each of our city councillors, and expressing concern that the LPA was not always giving the Plan appropriate weight when determining planning applications, was handed to the Minister. The unusual display of consensus between councillors representing the three main political parties was not lost on the Minister!
The Minister confirmed his own, and the government's, continuing commitment to neighbourhood planning and acknowledged that tightening measures were required to ensure local planning authorities afforded Plans the consideration intended by Localism Act. He explained that there were as yet relatively few urban neighbourhood plans, a fact he wished to address. He was unwilling to analyse the specific case of the Football Club development application, but enumerated various options that we might like to consider to help deliver the vision of a balanced community, made possible either by changes within the Neighbourhood Planning Bill currently passing through Parliament, or by announcements he had recently made in the House. These included periodically amending neighbourhood plans to ensure they remained up to date. This was being made easier to do, though a referendum would still be required before the amended version could be adopted. He was keen that we considered using Neighbourhood Development Orders and / or Community Right to Build Orders, and drew our attention to funding that was now being made available to community land trusts (which includes Exeter St James Community Trust) for building new homes, with a generous proportion allocated to the South West.
Of particular interest to St James was his response when asked whether LPAs have power to stop over-concentration of purpose built student accommodation in any one area such as St James, by insisting prospective developers look to build elsewhere in the Authority's area to ensure more even dispersal. Gavin Barwell stated that he would need to check with his advisers, but he did believe that this was already the case, and he promised to give us a definitive answer in due course.
The Minister showed enthusiasm when invited to make a visit to Exeter, and said that following the publishing of the long-awaited, but now imminent, Housing White Paper, he intends to tour the country and would be pleased to confirm Exeter as a destination. This will provide an opportunity for more people, including our local councillors, to meet with him and to show him the situation on the ground, so we look forward to finalising a date for his visit!
MORE STUDENT ACCOMMODATION IN ST JAMES?
The steady flow of planning applications for further student accommodation has continued over recent weeks, keeping Steering Group and its expert planning advisers busy as the merits or otherwise of each is considered against the policies of St James Neighbourhood Plan.
Change of use of Clock Tower Hotel, 16 New North Road into a 18 bed HMO 16/1661/03
The City Council's case officer for this application has intimated to us that in her view it is 'a finely balanced scheme with good arguments for and against' and so she is waiting to see what comes out of the consultation.
It is disappointing that the planners thus appear to need persuasion to recommend refusal on grounds of community balance. The proposed change of use would further increase existing community imbalance in St James, and approval would make a mockery of the Council's own policy and its rationale behind the application of Article 4 Direction across St James. It would also be counter to the wishes of the community as set out in St James Neighbourhood Plan, specifically the key aim of achieving a balanced and vibrant community.
In addition to the objection that will be submitted by the Forum, we would encourage all members who are concerned that this change of use is not in accordance with the underlying aim of the Neighbourhood Plan, and will result in a worsening of the existing community imbalance, to submit their individual objection to the Council in time to meet the deadline of Monday 6 February. A sentence or two, making clear that this is an objection, is all that is required. Submission may be made online following the link marked Public Representations found by clicking here. Alternatively you may object by emailing the Case Officer Laura Caller at Laura.Caller@exeter.gov.uk.
OTHER APPLICATIONS FOR STUDENT ACCOMMODATION to which objections have been or will be made on behalf of the Forum, in defence of the Neighbourhood Plan include:
16 Mowbray Avenue. 16/1560/03 This property is in one of the 9 streets in St James exempt from Article 4 Direction, so no planning consent would be needed for change of use to a 6 bed student HMO. However, the proposal is to make it a 7 bed HMO and this does require planning consent. Would one more student bed matter? If permission were granted, would it act as an enticing precedent for landlords of existing 6 bed HMOs to follow? What message would consent send out regarding the Council's commitment to its own rationale behind the Article 4 Direction in St James – and St James Neighbourhood Plan?
35 – 37 Sidwell Street 16/1530/03 (above existing vacant Poundstretcher store) 8 self-contained dwellings and 28 bed purpose built student accommodation (PBSA). St James Neighbourhood Plan suggests further PBSA might appropriately be accommodated in Sidwell Street, however, this was based on compliance with its policy for development on the Football Club / Yeo and Davey site. Now that the approved development on this latter site will provide 320 bed student accommodation rather than homes for a variety of groups including working people, families and elderly people wishing to downsize, further increases in the student population resulting from additional PBSA on Sidwell Street could not be absorbed while achieving the overall aim of improving community balance.
Cheeke Street 17/0053/03 a new PBSA 7 storey block for 150 students on the site of the current British Heart Foundation store. Although not actually within St James, it is so close as to affect our neighbourhood, especially with the 588 bed PBSA planned for the nearby bus depot site.
OTHER PLANNING MATTERS:
Of course, it is not just the issue of community balance that we focus on, and it is not only applications for student accommodation that concern us ! Any application of relevance to the Neghbourhood Plan is considered. For example, a current application has caused us to consider:
Would more restaurants/ cafes and hot food takeaways be a good idea on Sidwell Street?
The application 16/1241/03 for the ground floor space on the now empty Poundstretcher site has also caused concern to Steering Group. It is proposed that the existing space be divided into 3 units, all food outlets, either restaurant/cafe or takeaways. Steering Group and one of our Planning and Design Panel experts have raised objections with the Case Officer as we do not feel that adding to the existing number of food outlets / takeaways in Sidwell Street will help to realise the Council's own vision for Sidwell Street as a secondary shopping centre, nor the Neighbourhood Plan's vision:
'defining a future character for Sidwell Street that helps it to respond to the shifting balance of uses and new development proposed in the Grecian Quarter, and which helps to secure a long term future for the Methodist Church. This new future is likely to build on the potential for it to accommodate a mix of small scale independent traders that meet the needs of passing trade...'
Details of al the above can be found by entering the application number here on ECC's Planning Search Page.
CLOSURE OF PARIS STREET: final opportunity to express concerns over the impact on St James
Following the granting of outline permission for the Bus Station Redevelopment Proposals at an extraordinary meeting at the Guildhall last February, a long-anticipated application to the Secretary of State for associated to make an Order to close the top of Paris Street to traffic has been submitted.
This provides one final chance for anyone concerned about the likely impact of increased traffic through the streets of St James, including residential roads, to make their views known in the hope that permission will not be granted.
This is a significant moment and our neighbourhood may yet be spared from traffic its roads were not designed to carry if the Secretary of State is made aware of the extent of concern. The serious concerns originally expressed by Exeter St James Forum (click here) remain and Steering Group will be submitting an objection, but individual members and Resident Associations are also encouraged to submit their own letters.
As indicated on the Public Notice advertised by the Department for Transport (click here), the deadline for objections is 23 February.
Welcome to the Exeter St James Forum website where we bring you news, features, information and announcements about a Neighbourhood Plan to enhance the area in which we live.
The Government has introduced new planning policies which have given more power to local people. The Localism Act was given Royal Assent in November 2011 and communities are being encouraged to prepare neighbourhood plans to influence what happens in their area.
A group of residents’ associations and individuals, representing most parts of St James, joined forces as the Exeter St James Forum with the aim of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for the ward. Following a two year process the Plan received a 'Big Yes Vote' in a referendum on, 2 May 2013. The now fully adopted plan sets out a vision for St James and our priorities for the future. Exeter City Council and Devon County Council will take the plan into account when making planning and development decisions. The plan should also help the community to secure funding for projects to improve the area. Find out more.
The three key priorities are...
If you would like to become involved in the Exeter St James Forum or would like to be kept up-to-date through the mailing list please CLICK here.
Our Email address is – email@example.com
The information on this website is offered in good faith.
About St James Issue 1
CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO VISIT WEBSITES
To adverise your business here and support the high profile Queen's Crescent Garden Project please get in touch CLICK. Just £50 a year! Includes a link to your website and insertion in "About St James" the joint Trust/Forum newsletter delivered twice a year to every household in St James
WELL, WELL, WELL..Find out more about the ancient holy well discovered in Well Street
EXETER St JAMES NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
Following on from a Big Yes vote for Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan on 2nd May 2013, the Plan was officially adopted by Exeter City Council on 16 July 2013. Find out more in Newsletter 18
The Plan now forms part of Exeter’s statutory development plans and the policies it contains will be used to help determine planning applications.
Congratulations from Nick Boles MP & Right Hon Don Foster MP CLICK
See the Neighbourhood Plan Main Document CLICK