Football Club Development - Forum Statement
FOOTBALL CLUB DEVELOPMENT:
The recent decision by Exeter City Council Planning Committee to approve plans for the redevelopment of the Football Club, involving accommodation blocks for 327 students, was met with widespread consternation by residents of St James.
Neighbourhood plans are designed to enable local people to influence how development will occur locally in order to ensure the right type of development for their community. The fundamental aim of our adopted Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan - which carries statutory weight - is to provide a better community balance within St James by limiting the growth of student numbers in the ward. Currently students make up 55% of the population; this figure will rise to 57% as a consequence of the planning consent.
The Neighbourhood Plan is neither anti-development nor anti-Football Club. The relevant policy being:
SD1: Football Club / Yeo and Davey Site
Proposals that secure the continued vitality and viability of the Football Club and encourage comprehensive well-designed mixed use development will be supported provided they would:
a) result in positive, attractive and well-designed frontages of an appropriate scale to Well Street, St James Road, Old Tiverton Road and the railway corridor;
b) be of a scale, form and character appropriate to the residential nature of St James;
c) adopt high standards of sustainable design;
d) take account of the need to improve the balance of the community;
e) adopt layout and arrangement of access and egress that minimise the impact of additional traffic on surrounding residential streets such as Oxford Road;
f) encourage a flexible and ‘joined up plan’ for both the Football Club and the Yeo & Davey
The proposal to build large, purpose-built student accommodation units for over 300 students is not consistent with mixed use development and will mean a further deterioration in the balance of the community. Faced with these breaches in policy, the Forum took the view that the Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government should be advised that the Neighbourhood Plan, the first to be adopted by an urban local authority, had been so readily set aside leaving a community which had positively embraced neighbourhood planning both demoralised and disillusioned.
The Forum has since been informed by the DCLG that a Direction under the Town and Country Planning Order 2015 has been issued preventing ECC from granting planning consent for the time being. The matter is now in the hands of the Secretary of State.
See a copy of the Forum’s letter to the Minister here.
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