The Society calls for Clifton Hill residential proposals to be withdrawn by Exeter City Living

Exeter Civic Society has written to Exeter City Council asking them to withdraw their awful planning application for new housing on the site of the former Clifton Hill Sports Centre. The society has scrutinised the proposals in detail, and whilst the appearance of these contemporary homes is pleasing, we find them to be style over substance when we look into the detail.

The application has been submitted by the council’s new offshoot Exeter City Living, but it fails to meet the council’s own Residential Design and Tree Supplementary Planning Documents. The council proudly boast on their website that the Residential Design guidance was shortlisted for the Urban Design Group Public Sector Award in 2012 so we wonder why the council would not want its own developments to meet its own excellent recommendations.

The Civic Society expects better of the council who should be producing exemplar proposals and homes within the city. If they do not follow their own Local Plan guidance how can they expect developers to do so?

The society has identified 18 failings with the proposals, including a significant lack of garden space (many gardens are the size of a car parking space); undersized garages; parking courtyards that are discouraged in their own guidance; a lack of cycle storage; social housing that only just meets the council’s own space standards; and buildings so close to mature trees that they will receive little natural light in the summer months.

Plans submitted show the existing trees between the site and a proposed new Newtown park-land as being small and insignificant, but the reality is that they will tower over a four storey block of social homes, as well as four adjacent homes intended for sale, as shown in the attached illustration. These trees are so close to the adjacent homes that it is necessary to lop branches, but when the remaining branches grow out over future years it is likely that they will touch the face of the buildings and also need to be lopped – we find this situation appalling and a sign of desperation on the part of Exeter City Living to cram as many homes as possible onto the site.

What makes this situation worse is that the homes most affected are the social homes rather than those planned for sale on the open market. We expect the city council to ensure that any new social homes provide a high level environment for tenants, and there is also a lack of car parking for these homes or storage sheds. We think that future tenants are being treated like second class citizens when the flats are compared to the large and lavish homes that will be for sale, lacking the integration of private and social housing promoted by ECC and the government.

We hope our letter to the council will encourage councillors and officers to re-appraise the proposals and go back to the drawing board; we are convinced that a much better proposal can be developed.

There is more information on our webpage here.