Latest News

The latest stories from around Exeter which the Civic Society has an interest in as well as general news and reports from the Civic Society programme.

After the decision by HATOC on 3 June to suspend the 'Heavitree & Whipton Active Streets Trial', ECS is considering to relaunch a project from last year which was stopped when the trial took shape. We want to look into what 'Active Travel' can mean and how local residents can benefit from something like this. We will run a meeting in the second half of July of our 'Strategic Planning & Highways Group' to decide how best to restart our efforts for a balanced view on these issues. Cars are a vital part of our daily experience, so we promote a gradual change to a future with less car dominance. We know from our members how important it is to start from the local residents' point of view.
We took 7 photos from Exeter which are linked to our 'story' to the Harbour Festival in Exeter on 9 June 2024, where we were running our stall to inform the public about what we are doing. We had good resonance. Even the Deputy Lord Major took part while he was visiting our stall, and did not find the task too easy. Some recognised the sites well, but came up with all kinds of odd names or could not remember where exactly it was. Some had bold guesses. Nevertheless, many thanks to all who took part in the competition - and as always thanks to our volunteers, without whom we could not do things like this. But it is not too late...
We sent today an Open Letter to all Councillors on the HATOC Committee, asking them to consider not following the recommendations of the report for the Heavitree & Whipton Active Streets Trial. We think the report is unbalanced and not looking for mitigation with the aim to improve the measures and run the trial to its full length. We point out that the report should have reached for a more nuanced qualitative analysis of the consultation feedback.
ECS met the deadline in the current round of consultations for the 'Heavitree & Whipton Active Streets Trial'. We are in favour of letting the trail run for the whole intended time of 18 months before making final decisions. We support the principle of Low Traffic Networks where they help to reduce congestion in the city and improve people’s lives. However, we accept that for many the use of a vehicle, van or bus is essential, and for others a necessary convenience. We wish to see an efficient arterial highway network across the city that supports traffic movements and reduces congestion; ensuring roads allow all modes of traffic to move freely and safely, with a clear preference of vehicular commuter and through traffic on arterial roads rather than in residential areas. We hope that our response, which is informed by mixed observations from our members who are affected by the LTN, offers a balanced view about the trial and how some changes may help to make the LTN acceptable to the majority of residents living in the area and those living outside of the area who are affected by it.
ECS's response, handed in on 2 May 2024, welcomed the redevelopment masterplan, but raised concerns. The response covered respect for the surrounding area, height & mass of buildings, building design, tree cover and a few other points (pedestrian crossing and traffic calming measures, improved sports facilities, overall reduction in parking spaces).
In its latest 3 weekly meeting Exeter Civic Society's Planning Sub-Committee discussed the building application for the site of the Wonford Inn in Wonford Street, Priory Ward. At the time of the discussion 16 local people had already voiced their objections, reaching from not enough parking in the street to the suggested 16 residential units being too overbearing for the site. The building is locally listed and the last remaining pub in Wonford. Our Committee looked closer into the argument for the demolition of this historic pub, especially what the application says about the business case. And we found major flaws in this argumentation. We made this the basis of our letter of objection sent to Exeter City Council.
We responded to Devon County Councils consultation about the Heavitree Road and Pinhoe Road bus corridors and how to improve them, together with two major crossings which will need work on to enable safer pedestrian and cycle crossings at the Honiton Road / Rifford Road / Sweetbriar Lane junction and next to Polsloe Bridge. With the measures suggested in this improvement plan bus traffic will clearly be prioritised, sending a strong signal about and daily experience of alternatives in vehicular traffic, something we support. This signal should be as consistent as possible, so we suggest to run the bus lanes 24/7 and not to allow parking in the lane outside operational hours, wherever alternative essential parking is or can be made available. This increased and systematised use of the bus lanes will also benefit bicycle use, as riders can use the less busy lane. To make it safer for cyclists it should be carefully weighed up which other users are allowed into the bus lane. Heavy goods vehicles (lorries, tractors) other than buses impose increased danger to cyclists.
Exeter Civic Society welcomes Historic England’s consultation on listing Larkbeare House on Topsham Road, Exeter under the national scheme. Consultation ended on 18 March and quite some institutions and private people have sent in their comments - thank you all for your support. We ask people to continue to support our joint campaign with Devon Gardens Trust. Things you still can do: 1) Send us your comments. 2) Contact Devon County Council as the current owner. 3) Watch out for media and social media coverage and provide positive reactions to it. 4) Contact Exeter City Council (Heritage Officer, Tree Manager) with your comments. 5) Lobby your Local Councillors. Scroll down on the campaign page for listings of latest news and comments. A new round of consultation is open and the deadline for responses now is 17 April (see update below). We submitted our response on 15 April.
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 listings of the trees 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. Now with a link to our 47pp report.
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.