Our email address is: info@exeterstjamesforum.org





Change of Use to C2 Boarding Accommodation associated with Exeter College

Once again an application has been submitted for planning consent to change this hotel to student accommodation. This time Exeter College is seeking to use the Grade II listed property as boarding accommodation for up to 25 students – 7 more students than the previously refused applications for conversion to 18 bed House of Multiple Occupation.

This is clearly against the overarching aim of the Neighbourhood Plan which embodies the community's vision of a balanced neighbourhood, by restraining development of further student accommodation, seeing the gradual conversion of a proportion of student houses back to family homes and by ensuring any 'windfall or infill' development opportunities that result from the closure of commercial properties, are used for affordable housing or high quality private residential units.


This new application, 18/1641/FUL, argues that because the students it claims will be accommodated are mainly 16-18 years old, the change of use will lead to an improved community balance! Even if the students were all under 18, this argument surely doesn't stand to reason?

However, there is concern over the provision of misleading information. Two minor examples are: 

  • that it was initially claimed as fait accompli; that the College had already purchased the Hotel. When challenged Vice Principal Steven Campion admitted that this was subject to planning consent.
  • at pre-application consultation we were told that the accommodation would be for 22 students; the application states up to 25.

Further claims made by Exeter College at pre-application consultation and in the application documentation are not consistent with information obtained independently, including from OFSTED.

An urgent meeting with the City Council is being sought to discuss these potentially more serious examples of misinformation, but it is likely that we will be not be able to provide further information regarding our concerns before the deadline for public response to the application next Thursday, 18 December.

As it is so important that a large number of comments are submitted on time, we are therefore urging all members to focus on the key proposal of change of use to provide accommodation for students and to demonstrate their support for the vision of the Neighbourhood Plan by submitting comments either following the instructions via the Council's Planning Portal here, or by emailing the Case Officer, Laura Dymond, laura.dymond@exeter.gov.uk

We understand that you are likely to be very busy at this time of year, but please spare 5 minutes to send your comments, quoting the application reference, 18/1641/FUL, and making it clear that your comments are to be counted as an OBJECTION. There is no need to go into great detail; your objection will add to the all-important tally whether you write one sentence or a whole page! For example it would be sufficient to state in your own words that you do not want to see the current community imbalance getting any worse and that you support the vision of the Neighbourhood Plan.

The significance of individual objections cannot be over-estimated; instead of submitting as a couple, double your effect by sending two separate objections!

How many refusals will it take before the applicant / agent will decide to put the hotel on the market at the price the estate agent advised Forum representatives, our city councillors, Kevin Mitchell and Keith Owen, and a planning officer, would make conversion to two family homes financially viable? What seems certain is that while developers are able to pay the prices viable only for student accommodation in the belief that they will be able to obtain consent, the over-inflated prices will ensure that applications to provide homes for families, working people, those older people wishing to down-size to our conveniently central location etc., do not come forward. We must stand firm behind the Neighbourhood Plan!




Queen's Crescent Garden restoration recommencing 


This is the "BEFORE" picture - a very sad eyesore:

The current "WORK IN PROGRESS" - a welcome sight:


It won't be long till we'll be proud to share the 'AFTER' photos!


What to expect

The initial focus will include rebuild of the Longbrook Street / Queens Crescent corner.

Many local residents will recall the widespread sense of exasperation when the wall was left badly damaged after a car ploughed into the corner a few years ago. The lack of ownership at that time meant there was no-one to come forward to put in a claim for damage, no insurance policy to cover reinstatement, and so the already sadly-dilapidated state of the wall intensified.

Well – at last this is about to change! And while the builder is busy with bricks and mortar, much 'behind the scenes' work continues so that it won't be long before everything is ready to proceed with creation of the final two new entrances and completion of the boundary work.

On signing the Lease, Exeter St James Community Trust took over responsibility for the regeneration project from the Forum, and as leaseholder was at last in position to appoint LDA Design to undertake necessary preparatory work for the next phase of regeneration. Many Forum members will recall that following extensive consultation with the community in 2014, LDA prepared the Masterplan, and now, armed with recently-commissioned topographical and tree surveys, LDA have developed the chosen concept design, refining as required to overcome constraints presented by the survey results, and producing detailed drawings to ensure the proposed new entrance from Queens Crescent will be just right! Sands Consultants, Civil and Structural Chartered Engineers of Hem's Court, have also been busy providing pro bono expertise in mapping the underground services.

Trust members will be able to find out and discuss the latest plans with Forum and Trust Member, Frazer Osment, following the Trust AGM at the end of this month. Many Forum members are also Trust members, but those who have not yet become members of the Trust (through purchase of minimum of 5 £1 shares) are warmly invited to do so to show their support, whilst ensuring that in future they, too, will be in the vanguard of those finding out about QCG developments! Click here for details of Trust membership and application forms.

Exeter St James Community Trust wishes to thank all who over the years have donated money, time, effort or expertise to the Project. The next phases of the boundary work currently getting underway, have been made possible principally as the result of a Devon County Council 'Investing in Devon' grant and an Exeter City Council 'Grass Roots' grant. Further funding opportunities to continue the regeneration are being considered.

Not to be forgotten are the generous 'in-kind' contributions of those who have donated their professional expertise and time as vital and valuable match funding at various stages of the Project. With regard to the current programme, recognition and thanks go to local resident Frazer Osment who continues to lend the Project his expertise in landscape design, through insightful planning, oversight and competent management of the regeneration work, and to Sands Consultants, civil and Structural Chartered Engineers.




ESJF LEGAL FUND ..........

               click here for the background to this appeal






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...  


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LATEST ISSUE About St James Issue 8 Dec 2018

About St James issue 7 May 2018

About St James issue 6, Dec 2017

About St James issue 5. May 2017

About St James Issue 4, December 2016

About St James Issue 3, April 2016

About St James Issue 2, September 15

About St James Issue 1, April 15



To advertise your business here and support the high profile Queen's Crescent Garden Project please get in touch CLICK. From 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 property in St James


WELL, WELL, WELL..Find out more about the ancient holy well discovered in Well Street

Visit the Devon and Cornwall Police website page for St James


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the St James’ Forum on 2 July 2016



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