Exeter Civic Society

Exeter Civic Society

Harlequins Centre Redevelopment

We have copied some of the revised drawings from the planning application site so members can view the application more easily.

In 2019 Exeter City Council received a planning application for the redevelopment of the shopping centre site to build a Hotel and a Co-living block. The proposals were for 298 co-living rooms with amenity space and 230 cycle spaces, and the hotel would have 114 bedrooms with restaurant and 42 parking spaces. The Harlequins Centre has had a troubled recent past with many shop units being empty, and it’s exterior architecture is said by many to be ugly and over bearing, particularly the Paul Street elevations which are austere and without windows or any interest. The concrete vehicular ramp from Paul Street to the Guildhall Centre car park is an eyesore and a hindrance to redevelopment of the site, but needs to remain for the foreseeble future.

The application for redevelopment from Curlew Developments has been roundly condemned with over 200 objections, including from the Civic Society and English Heritage. Whilst many of us wish to see the Harlequins Centre buildings replaced and for Paul Street to be made more attractive, the height and mass of the proposed redevelopment is not appropriate for this site, which is positioned in the City Centre Conservation area, is adjacent to the Roman City Wall (a national monument), and is adjacent to the St Davids Conservation area and homes in Northernhay Street.

As a result of the large number of objections, the applicant decided to submit a slightly revised scheme in May 2020 by reducing the height of the two blocks by one floor, removing co-living rooms from the Hotel block, and changing the designs of each block to differentiate each. The overall level of accommodation now is 259 co-living rooms and 138 cycle spaces and the hotel will have 128 bedrooms with 44 car park spaces. The Co-living block has five floors of accommodation plus the ground floor which is 1.5 floor height, and a roof parapet to shield equipment located there; in all this equates to seven storeys, but adjacent buildings are 3-4 storeys. The Hotel block is similar in height to the Guildhall Centre but the tower part also extends to seven storeys from street level with the block fronting Paul Street extending to five storeys.

It is highly likely that the Civic Society will again object to the revised proposals.