Agenda item

Executive - 28 November 2023


The minutes of the Executive of 28 November 2023 were presented by the Leader, Councillor Bialyk, and taken as read.  


Min 110 (Development Land Disposal Programme), Councillor Atkinson declared an interest, due to the proximity of her residence to the Clifton Hill site and withdrew from the meeting during discussion of the matter.


In respect of Min 110 (Development Land Disposal Programme) ,the Leader advised that the following recommendations were amended by Members at (1) and (2) had been approved at the Executive:-


(1)       the disposal of land of the Mary Arches Street car park as shown on the site boundary plans as set out in Appendix 1 and the multi storey car park site for co living use, and the surface car park for residential use;


(2)     the disposal of land at Clifton Hill as shown on the site boundary plans in Appendix 2, for use as residential homes on the existing site (shaded blue), retaining the green shaded area for existing use as an open space, and retaining the yellow and purple shaded areas for existing uses.


Recommendations (3) and (4) were agreed as presented at the Executive.


The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded the amendments.


Councillor Bialyk in speaking to the amendments made the following points:-


·         the report was understandably of great public interest and every effort had been made to ensure that the matter was discussed in the public domain, despite there being significant commercially sensitive information;

·         the amended recommendations offered the opportunity for the Mary Arches Street multi story car park site to be available for both Co-living and other residential use. It would not be Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), and the Clifton Hill site was designated for residential homes with the existing green space and areas used by the golf driving range and dry ski slope site to be retained; and

·         the amended recommendations also offered a greater opportunity for disposal of the sites and a clear direction of travel for future development with a further report to be presented to the Executive.


Councillor Moore indicated that she wished to move an amendment to Recommendation (1), and seconded by Councillor M Mitchell to the following:-


(1)  the disposal of land at Mary Arches Street car park as shown on the site boundary plans in Appendix 1, the multi-storey car park site for mixed development, and the surface car park for residential use.


The Lord Mayor clarified that as there has been an amendment to recommendations (1) and (2) which was contrary to the officer recommendations and as agreed at the Executive, a Council decision to formally make those amendments was required. The amendments, from the Leader would be debated and voted upon. If carried, they would become the substantive recommendation and further amendments could then be made at that stage.


Councillor Wright seconded the amendment in respect of recommendations (1) and (2).


During the discussion on the amended recommendations, the following points were made:-


·         the amended recommendation in respect of the Clifton Hill site was welcomed as it had been a worrying time for the residents of Newtown and Clifton Hill and tribute was paid to the individuals and groups who used the outside space. Thanks were also made to the Save the Green Space Campaign for their efforts. It was important that the Council was able to take opportunities to maximise any receipt from the sale of assets and it would have been an easy business decision to sell the whole site to include Purpose Built Student accommodation. the ongoing pledge not to sell such sites for this purpose was welcomed and the amendments were supported; officers had the discretion to consider the best investment consideration for the Council and Members had a discretion to propose a different opportunity;

·         there was full support for the amended recommendations from the Executive, which was an entirely appropriate decision for the future of the city.  Given the many pressures on the housing stock, any such development would ensure the delivery of houses for local people first;

·         there would still be development of purpose student accommodation in the private sector in sustainable locations near to the University campus and the Member supported the amended recommendations to help deliver housing for local people;

·         the Council was waiting to attract a developer for the site.


The Leader, responding to Members’ comments, advised that :-


·         the amendments to the recommendation was not a criticism of the officer advice received and he had absolute trust in the Directors to bring forward their honest view on what developments could be realised; and

·         he hoped that Members would wait until a further report was made available where there would be a full debate at Executive and Council.


The amended recommendations were put forward by the Leader, put to the vote and carried.


Councillor Moore was formally invited to move her proposed amendment and seconded by Councillor M Mitchell to read:-


1)    the disposal of land at Mary Arches Street car park as shown on the site boundary plans in Appendix 1, the multi-storey car park site for mixed development, and the surface car park for residential use.


Councillor Moore in speaking to the amendment made the following points:-


·         she had concerns for the community around the Mary Arches site, as it was a difficult area of the city centre and bringing forward a mixed development would help maintain a cohesive community and improve the dynamic in this area. She suggested the amendment to remove the Co living restriction would offer more flexibility to create a liveable neighbourhood and would offer more options for disposal; and

·         she noted the commitment made in managing the level of student accommodation in the city, but there were now more Co living development applications coming forward on Council owned sites and did not accept the enthusiasm for Co living arrangements and suggested that some may not be able to afford the rents charged.


During the discussion on the amended recommendations, a Member advised that whilst homes for communities were needed, Co-living was more short-term and may not necessarily provide homes or be a place to raise a family in Exeter.


The Leader referred to the last meeting of the Executive and the debate that had ensued on Co living in relation to this matter. He advised that he did not wish to regulate or pre-empt any views on Co living and that he would not be supporting the amendment.


The amendment was put to the vote and LOST.


Councillor M Mitchell proposed a further amendment:-


1)    that a report be brought back to the Executive and Council within eight months setting out the proposed disposal options.


The Leader replied that he would not support the eight months’ timeframe and that a report would be brought back to the Executive on these sites in due course and would convene a Special Council meeting if required.


The amendment was put to the vote and LOST.


The Leader moved the substantive recommendations and following a vote, the recommendations were carried.


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