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Exeter College given the go ahead to convert Clock Tower Hotel to student accommodation

A further setback to the goal of a re-balanced community of St James came with the approval of an application to change Clock Tower Hotel into boarding accommodation for 25 Exeter College students.

The Forum wishes to thank all of you who objected to the application and so ensured that it was at least taken to Planning Committee. Despite this setback, it is important that the local community continues to show its determination to fight for its  sustainability in the face of seemingly never-ending pressure to accommodate more  students at the expense of permanent residents.

It was very disappointing that despite nearly 50 letters of objection and just a single letter in support, together with the well-reasoned attempts of Councillors Kevin Mitchell and Keith Owen, as well as Forum Chair, Anne Jobson, to persuade Members of Planning Committee to reject the officer's recommendation, the application was approved. Councillor Percy Prowse, who sits on the Committee, was one who voted against the proposals. We are grateful to each of our councillors for standing firm in his support of the Neighbourhood Plan and the re-balancing of St James.

The permission was granted on the understanding that the accommodation would be used by 16-18 year old students, solely from Sunday night to Friday morning in term time, and so the local residents will be sure to keep this in mind. The College has been careful in the wording used in the required Management Plan Heads of Terms and while stating that preference will be shown to these younger students, and supervision, including a 10pm curfew, will apply to all under 18s, it certainly does not preclude the use by its over 18 students who would not be subject to the same supervision.

This comes particularly hard after the very encouraging news that another property in the same terrace, had reverted from being a student HMO, with a family purchasing the property as its own home. So - one significant step in the desired direction quickly undone by the approval of this conversion to student accommodation, when the planning officers were well aware that acceptance of a genuine realistic offer would have seen an application for conversion of the Hotel back to the two original family houses!
Such return of properties from HMOs to family houses is a rare exception, despite being oft-cited by the City Council when approving purpose-built student accommodation block (PBSA) applications as the reason communities should welcome increasing numbers of PBSA. It won't be encouraged when approval for student accommodation continues to be granted nearby!


The Latest from Queen's Crescent Garden!

Pleasing progress towards restoration of the Queen's Crescent Garden boundary has seen the creation of a new sweeping entrance off Queen's Crescent. We look forward to further progress once the tree that has caused serious damage to the wall and the pavement has been removed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Time for Long-overdue Tree Work
 
Those who have observed events in the Garden over the last few years will be well aware of the number of trees that have succumbed to stormy weather, sometimes weakened by fungal disease, and have either shed branches naturally, or have been deemed dangerous by Devon County Council with orders for part or complete felling.

 

The sad truth is that since the residents' garden committee dissolved in the 1990s, the trees have suffered neglect, so it should come as no surprise that there is a backlog of required work. It was therefore a priority for Exeter St James Community Trust to commission a professional tree survey to establish the health status of the trees and advise which could be improved by judicious pruning and those with limited longevity. In addition, it was clear to all that the Western Red Cedar half way along Queen's Crescent had outgrown its position. This photo reveals the sorry state of affairs.

As the garden is within a conservation area, permission is needed before any trees may be removed. Following the statutory 3 week advertising with notices displayed in the vicinity, the Trust heard that the Council would not be issuing a Tree Preservation Notice for this tree, nor for the weeping ash near the York Road / Queen's Crescent corner that suddenly shed a large branch a couple of years ago.

 When the Lease was negotiated with the Council, it was agreed that the Council would provide a sum of £3000 New Homes Bonus money towards initial tree work, and this means that we are able to proceed with all the recommended work, crown lifting, pollarding as well as felling of the two trees.

A careful eye is being kept on the majestic ash within the Garden; fears that it might be succumbing to Ash Dieback seem unfounded for now, and we hope that this tree will last for many years to come – at least until mature trees, that will be planted in accordance with the Masterplan, have become well established. We are thinking of the future and are determined to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy healthy, majestic trees in the Garden as a result of the judicious work that we undertake now!

 

 

 

 

Logs Available – make a donation to the QCG Project!

The tree surgeon will be cutting the wood into 'manageable logs' – of a size that can easily be lifted into a car boot to be taken away to allow to season and chop up for firewood. Would you like some of this wood in exchange for a donation to the QCG project? Please contact us as soon as possible, providing your contact details if you are interested so that we can coordinate collection.

For those with woodburners who prefer to have wood already very well-seasoned and cut into logs suitable for the burner, we also are selling bags of mixed wood – cherry, apple, bay and fir. This can be delivered to you if necessary for a small additional charge. The wood has been donated by a member and cut up by another, all for the benefit of the QCG project. Get in touch to find out more or put in an order while stocks last!

 

 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

 

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