CTH Alert! Change of Use

Last updated: 6th February 2019

ALERT! CLOCK TOWER HOTEL -

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!

IF YOU LONG FOR GREATER COMMUNITY BALANCE IN ST JAMES 
PLEASE SPARE 5 MINUTES TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN.

NUMBERS OF OBJECTORS REALLY ARE OF SIGNIFICANCE!
                                     

 

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