Agenda item

Full Draft Exeter Plan Consultation

To consider the report of the Director City Development.


Councillor Read having sought to ask a question in relation to a strategy declared a disclosable pecuniary interest as a trustee of Exeter Canal and Quay Trust (ECQT) and withdrew from the room, whilst another Member sought the information.


The Assistant Service Lead (Local Plan) presented the report which explained the progress made on the Exeter Plan (Local Plan) and made a presentation which was attached to the minutes. He explained the content of the Full Draft of the plan which is out for public consultation between 23 October 2023 and 15 January 2024.  


The Chair reminded Members that the report was about the Local Plan consultation process and not a scrutiny of the Local Plan.


The Assistant Service Lead (Local Plan) advised that the team had been working on the Plan since 2021, when suggestions were made for development sites in the city. They consulted last year and had been reviewing the 3,500 responses and appraising further sites which were proposed during consultation. This current process is the third public consultation and covers the full Draft Plan.

This work now included a large number of policies and strategies which direct the Plan. The six, strategic, brownfield sites identified had changed slightly but were still based on the sites in the Exeter Liveable initiative. The sites included in the plan were residential, employment or mixed use. They had also published a proposals map of all of the policies in the plan.


The presentation covered the detail of the Plan and he highlighted number of matters associated with the Plan.  The identification of the strategic brownfield sites offered a sustainable strategy for the city. This offered an opportunity to meet the housing needs in sustainable locations and regenerate areas of the city. The challenges of developing brownfield sites were varied and included existing uses on site with multiple ownership and areas of contaminated land, the heritage setting of the city and the viability of the development. The current brownfield approach is a change from the previous plans which included large areas of greenfield development on the edge of the city.


There were significant challenges in delivering the evidence to support the Plan and to support the end of the process. The consultation was running for 12 weeks and was being run in accordance with the Consultation Charter and the Planning Statement of Community Involvement. There were a number of exhibitions and meetings with stake holder meetings and community groups running alongside an advertising and social media campaign. The next steps will include an assessment of the responses received and the Plan will come back to the Strategic Scrutiny Committee in March to provide an analysis of the responses. The team will put together more evidence and revise the Plan before further consultation next autumn as part of the formal Regulation 19 process and the publication of the Final Draft Plan. A more formal consultation will be run in a year’s time.


The Assistant Service Lead (Local Plan) responded to the following Members’ comments:-


·           the consultation has been pitched to serve a variety of ways in which people can respond. Stakeholders were able to send detailed responses or very simple ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ answers through the smiley or less happy face emojis.


·           the structure of the consultation followed the Council’s consultation Charter. The planning team had arranged 12 exhibitions and 2 pop up exhibitions in the Central Library and this was a significant undertaking. There was a limit to the events that they could support along with other meetings with community groups and with community builders.

·           Regulation 19 was a formal approach and structure for commenting on the soundness of the Plan at the next stage of plan-preparation. That consultation on the Final Draft would take place next autumn and would be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and examined through a series of public hearings.

·           the team would review their strategy of consultation in advance of the Regulation 19 stage, however this stage is very regimented as set out by regulations and this could have an impact on how the consultation is run.

·           Regulation 19 would be a final draft. All responses received together with the evidence base would be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and an Inspector would have a series of meeting hearings to examine the plan. Respondents would be able to attend these hearings. The Inspectors recommends changes to the plan, and these recommended Changes are consulted on and then a final version of the Plan is produced.

·           the call for sites had been carried out in 2021 and evidence was put together to support the Plan. The site appraisal is available as part of the evidence base for the plan. Any new sites which are proposed during the current consultation would be fed through that formal process and site assessment and conclusions would be made available when the next stage of the Plan was out for consultation. The Portfolio Holder City Development assured the Member that the call for sites would follow a robust set of criteria and it was not about the second sites coming forward again, it was about seeing new sites that would be appropriate.

·           the team is working with neighbouring authorities and the County Council  as there was a duty to cooperate on Plan making on cross-boundary issues.

·           the principle of the Live and Move Strategy, Active Travel, Active Design principles and Place Making as well as the importance of health and well-being were included in the Water Lane Design Code and Development Framework.

·           the site of St Luke’s at the University of Exeter had been identified as an employment allocation, but was quite different to the other three traditional employment sites. St Luke’s would offer a reinvigoration of the site to support the University’s Research and Development functions and health partnership work with the Royal Devon University Healthcare Trust. It was a different type of employment allocation and that may need to be clarified in the next stage of the Plan.

·           a Heritage Harbour strategy developed by the Exeter Canal and Quay Trust including the Harbour, Quay area and Water Lane had been taken into consideration by the Exeter Plan work.


Strategic Scrutiny Committee noted the work associated with the Full Draft Exeter Plan.


Supporting documents: