News

Keep informed of all the latest happenings from in and around Exeter as well as the latest Exeter Civic Society news and information on our Blue Plaques programme by keeping an eye on this page.

Preserve the Grounds of Larkbeare House
Thursday 22nd February 2024
Exeter Civic Society is becoming increasingly concerned about the future of the magnificent mature trees and grounds at Larkbeare House. They and Devon Gardens Trust are undertaking surveys of the trees and grounds in order to ensure they are protected when the site is sold by Devon County Council potentially as early as at the end of February 2024, most likely to a developer. Please help us by raising your concerns to Devon County Council and supporting our initiative.
On 2 Feb, Planning Inspector H. Baugh-Jones dismissed the appeal from the developers of the former Police Station & Magistrate Site on Heavitree Road. The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall and the developer had appealed against ECC's refusal of the outline planning permission to develop two large student/co-living blocks on the site. Local councillors and residents objected in Feb 2023 to the scheme, which had been recommended to the Planning Committee by the ECC Director of Development, Ian Collinson, who saw this development in line with ECC's Liveable Exeter vision.
Then, Now & Next Walk restarted
Thursday 8th February 2024
Our walking series, 1st Wed each month, has restarted. A good amount of us came out of hibernation for an interesting walk, organised and lead by Jim Perriam. If you want to know more about these walks and how to join next time, please visit our website under: https://exetercivicsociety.org.uk/events/then-now-next-walk-three-parks-and-a-river-20240207/ We will release where we will be walking in early March soon, watch the website events' section.
On Monday, 15 Jan 2024, Exeter Civic Society handed in their response to the Full Draft of the Exeter Plan. We are keen that the council produces a plan that has policies that are clearly explained, written in a manner that supports the intention of the policy without ambiguity or confusion, and that will not allow an alternative and unintended interpretation of policies that will result in challenge at planning application stage. Throughout the Full Draft Plan, there still is much inconsistency in the writing of policies and how they are numbered. Our response is detailed to help iron these shortcomings out further.
After discussion amongst members at the December Open Meeting, members worked together to provide the developer of the Clarendon House site with a response to their very early stage development plans. Our main concerns are more student housing in this area and a 16 storey tower building. We very much think there must be a Master Plan or at the very least a Design Code developed by Exeter City Council before any of the new buildings for the Eastgate Redevelopment should go ahead.
On 5 Dec 2023, Exeter Civic Society submitted its response to the 'Draft Water Lane Development Framework and Design Code'. We were glad to see that our 'Prospectus for the Wider Water Lane Area' had been taken as the first stepping stone in the development of what ultimately will have supplementary planning document status. We are, however, concerned about some of the fundamentals of the draft document and specifics such as density and height of buildings, bicycle path provision and vehicular access to the Water Lane area. Follow up our fundamental concerns and the specifics for each chapter by reading the full news.
7th and 8th December 2023 were made special for the members of the Exeter Civic Society, as they celebrated George Gissing's stay in Exeter from Jan 1891 to June 1893. Professor Richard Dennis introduced the topic with his lecture on 'George Gissing an Exeter: A Transformative Writer at a Transformative Time in his Own Life', given at the Devon & Exeter Institution in the evening of 7th Dec. The next morning saw the unveiling of the plaque in Heavitree Road.
After more than 4 hours of presentations and debate, Exeter City Council Planning Committee voted 8:5 in favour of the Haven Banks mixed housing development. Richard Smith from the Haven Banks Neighbourhood Group used his 3 minutes to point out that approving the current plan meant that 17.5% of the projected homes for the wider Water Lane area redevelopment would be built on 5% of the land. He rightly called this overdevelopment of this site. Exeter Council Leader Phil Bialyk spoke as a Councillor at the Committee meeting pointing out that the decision the Committee members would take would send a signal to the potential developers of the other brownfield sites. In an at times emotional plea, he warned that it was a major strategic decision to be taken and that approval was needed to support the overarching vision for the city's development. Later Ian Collinson, Director of City Development, spoke in the closing stages before the debate, also highlighting that this was a critical moment for this council's brownfield strategy, which had to be shown as being deliverable. For him the overarching benefit of the Haven Banks Application was clear, he concluded his lengthy statement.
Keith Lewis, as Chair of Exeter Civic Society, sent two letters of concern relating to our historical heritage, one about the state of our city's most prominent heritage assets to ECC's Chief Executive and the other about the impact of the Christmas Market and similar events on the grassed areas of Cathedral Green to the Dean of Exeter Cathedral.
The 'Strategic Planning & Highways Group' in collaboration with the 'Planning Group' sent in their response for the 'Water Lane Outline Planning Application' to ECC on 10 November 2023. We suggested to look into serious issues with traffic inside and outside the area again, raised our concerns about Gabriel Wharf, the height and massing of buildings.
Todd Gray presented his new book on 'Exeter's Lost Buildings. Destruction from 1800 to 1899', the publication of which our Society supported. A special event in the morning of 26 Oct 2023 for all who helped financing this very interesting project was followed by a two-part public presentation in the afternoon.
You know the feeling, you are standing there in the rain and wait for a bus - and then all of the sudden there are three: 1) The Full Draft of the Exeter Plan (deadline 15 Jan), 2) Water Lane Development Framework and Design Code (deadline 4 Dec), 3) The Householder's Guide: Design of Extensions and Alterations (deadline 4 Dec). Please look into the website, which has a pdf of each file, or if you contact ECC you can get a printed copy as well.