Exeter Civic Society

Exeter Civic Society

City Centre Update Jan 2016

From Keith Lewis, Chairman, Exeter Civic Society

January 2016

There is a lot happening regarding the development of the city centre, and members of the society have been actively trying to do what we can to ensure Exeter gets the best deal possible.

The outline planning application for the bus station redevelopment was considered by an extraordinary meeting of the full council on Wednesday 20 January 2016 at the Guildhall at 6.00PM. Papers were published on the council’s website, but be warned it runs to 52 pages:

http://committees.exeter.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=261&MId=4747

The proposals were approved by a large majority, although voting was mainly along political lines. The minutes of the meeting can be found on the council’s website.

At the planning committee the chairman, Cllr Bialyk, asked that there is public engagement before detailed plans are submitted for the various elements of the bus station site before detailed proposals are submitted.

So what is next for the Civic Society?

We have three aspect of this development to focus upon.

The retail and restaurant element which is located off Paris Street and Sidwell Street will act as an extension of the High Street and Princesshay retail areas. Whilst developers will focus upon their own development, we must work with them and the city council to ensure that Sidwell Street gets a lift from the development. The council’s development proposals for the bus station site talked of improved pedestrian movement between Sidwell Street and the development, and an improved street market, we hope we can ensure this is not forgotten.

The provision of a high quality bus station that encourages more bus usage and is welcoming to visitors must be a high priority for the city as it will be a first impression for many. As the number of bus bays proposed will be fewer than the current bus station, we must give detailed consideration to how country buses or long distance coaches can use on-street bus stops. We expect to help establish an Exeter bus users group over the next few months and that the group will engage with the city council’s architects and other specialists to ensure we end up with a bus station which will be functional and a credit to the city.

And finally, we need to work with the county council and other organisations to ensure the proposed changes to the highway will function well and reduce the possibility of additional congestion as a result of this development.

The council’s resources scrutiny committee debated a paper relating to the new bus station on Thursday 7 January, but this was heard as a confidential item so we are not privy to the reasons behind the developer not paying for the bus station, although we do now know that it will cost £6.25m. The same paper was considered by the council’s Executive on 18 January, and then by an extraordinary meeting of the council on 25th see public reports pack.