Wider Water Lane Area Redevelopment

Exeter Civic Society was challenged by Ian Collinson, ECC’s new Director of City Development, to provide in a pro-active approach a wider planning review for Haven Banks and Water Lane sites.

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Our ‘Prospectus for the Redevelopment of the Wider Water Lane Area’ was published on 31 Oct 2022. You can access the online version here. We have a limited stock of printed copies for sale (£5 per copy plus postage); please contact us if you want to buy a copy.

Online Version of ECS ‘Prospectus for the Redevelopment of the Wider Water Lane Area’: https://exetercivicsociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Prospectus-complete-ONLINE.pdf

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In the context of the redevelopment of the Haven Banks Site (former ‘The Range’ retail site) and the Water Lane Site (former gasworks and gum factory site), Exeter Civic Society was challenged by Ian Collinson, ECC’s new Director of City Development, to provide in a pro-active approach a wider planning review. ECC had not gone ahead with a master plan for this area, something our Society had been demanding for some time.

On 1 and 22 August Exeter Civic Society ran two workshops for what it calls the Wider Water Lane Area Redevelopment, including Haven Banks and the already existing estates between Alphington Street and the river/canal. The workshops brought together representatives from two residents’ groups (Haven Banks Residents and Business Association, Haven Banks Redevelopment Residents Group) with the Friends of the Exeter Ship Canal, the Exe Water Sports Association, the Exeter Sea Cadets, local Exeter City and Devon County councillors, the Exeter Cycle Campaign, and businesses from the area. At the second meeting, all participating groups decided to jointly write a prospectus for this area. It develops guiding principles for the Wider Water Lane Area and highlights concerns, to inform and critically accompany a wider planning exercise Exeter City Council, as we understand, has now finally brought on its way.

The Wider Water Lane Area Prospectus has been produced by a consortium of writing groups during September and October 2022. It outlines how the whole area can benefit from synergetic effects by bringing together ideas of the residents and organisations already living and working in this part of the city and thus productively reacting to plans of the developers of the Haven Bank and Water Lane new developments.

Chapters the prospectus deal with: building great neighbourhoods; transport and road infrastructure for a low-car community; geographically nuanced social, retail/business and sport/exercise provisions; the canal basin and canal as potential for a true waterside community; a brief history of the Wider Water Lane Area; Vauban – as example for a sustainable model district.

Update Jan 2023:

In November and December members of the project had meetings with the developers of Haven Banks (online) and Water Lane (in person and online). We established good working contacts and were able to talk constructively with the developers of both sites about our concerns. Both developers briefed us on the state of their work and provided us with more background information about their planning. Follow-up meetings are planned for in early 2023.

We were invited to a meeting about ‘Our Water: From the City to the Sea’ on 2 Dec, organised by Exeter Labour for a New Green Deal in collaboration with Exeter University Labour Society and taken our ‘Prospectus’ there. It was a good opportunity for networking, among others with the Plymouth MP Luke Pollard and the candidate for the MP seat in Exeter Steve Race.

Update Mar/April 2023:

On 9 February the Water Lane developer invited people of the ‘Prospectus’ working group and the Haven Banks Residence Groups to an evening where they explained the progress they made in their complex planning for the site. They were very interested in feed-back at this stage. Initial concepts from August 2022 are available to view on their project website. Photos we took of the boards on 9 Feb can be found in the 2nd column on our website under the Waterlane entry.

In February the ‘Strategic Planning and Highways Group’ submitted a statement to the planning consultation for the west side of the Canal Basin, called Canalside for redevelopment purposes. You find our response in the box on the right. We thought it was important to challenge the current planning ideas with more challenging ideas brought up and developed over the years by the groups working on the Exeter Shipping Canal.

In Feb/March 2023 the second application for the Haven Banks Development was up for consultation (deadline 12 March). It looks as if the developer met with the council officer several times and ‘refined’ their first application. We still think the height of the planned development is the major concern and we made this clear in our response, sent in on 13 March 2023.

We had the relaunch of the walks the Society organises with a walk in the Wider Water Lane Area on Thurs, 30 March, 2-4. Ten members, some of them new ones, took part in what turned out to be an interesting afternoon. Thankfully the weather was on our side.

In mid April we responded to Water Lane DMC’s consultation on updated proposals for the Water Lane Development. These documents which were part of an exhibition held in March 2023 will become the basis for an outline planning proposal for part of the site which is expected for late April or May 2023.

Update September 2023:

The long-awaited outline planning application is in and was made public by Exeter City Council in late August, for details see under https://publicaccess.exeter.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=RZ803JHB00E00&activeTab=summary.  A first reading confirmed what we expected, a document pretty much in line with what the developer had consulted on before. Our reply to the developer’s second consultation from April 2023 therefore will be the backbone of our reply. ‘Strategic Planning & Highways’ and ‘Planning’ will work together on our response which will be sent before the deadline on 5 October. Special regards will be given to the fact that it is an outline application, so we will need to see how much of what is suggested will be safeguarded for later developers coming in and actually building there.

For the Haven Banks Development a new planning application was handed in to ECC in September. It covers a temporary use of the warehouse structures of the former Matalan and Range sections of the existing warehouse on the site. Welbeck CP (Haven Road) Ltd, the owner of the site, applies for a temporary 1 year use of both segments by the Rediscovery Church, which is outgrowing its present permanent building on Northernhay Street. For details see the planning statement  https://planningdocs.exeter.gov.uk/servlets/direct/KdQwhHriSpdnoukQ5XvTviY/2/839326/1/1/AS_PDF_FILE under and the full application under https://exeter.gov.uk/planning-services/permissions-and-applications/related-documents/?appref=23/1114/FUL# . This means if the application is successful, there will be at least a one year delay for any plans to redevelop the whole site.

Update October 2023:

The Draft of the ‘Water Lane Development Framework and Design Code’, covering the whole area, will be made publically available soon. The document has the status of a Supplementary Planning Document.  The ECC Executive has been recommended that it should go out for formal consultation on 23 October 2023 for 6 weeks (deadline 4 Dec). We are currently working on our response.

Update November 2023:

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. The full letter can be found under: https://exetercivicsociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/ECR-response-to-Water-Lane-Outline-Planning-Application-10-Nov-2023.pdf 

Discussions in August 2022

ECS and 'Friends of the Exeter Shipping Canal' stall at 'Our Water' event on 2 Dec 2022