Agenda item

Planning Application No. 23/0490/FUL - Land at Summerland Street (Between Red Lion Lane And Verney Street), Exeter

To consider the report of the Director City Development.



The Principal Project Manager (Development) (HHS) presented the application for the demolition of existing buildings and construction of a 145 bedspace co-living Development (up to 6 storeys in height) and associated works.


He provided the following information:-


·         The proposed development comprised the demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a five and six storey co-living residential building;

·         The proposed development would feature communal facilities on the ground floor, with a further kitchen and dining space and a roof terrace at the uppermost floor, with 145 bedspaces in ensuite rooms on the first to sixth levels;

·         The building was arranged with perimeter block and internal court on upper levels and a ground floor that had roof lights from the rear court to give natural light to the rearmost spaces with more active uses arranged on street frontages;

·         The main entrance would be on Summerland Street with service accesses from Red Lion Lane and Verney Street;

·         The application has been revised since first submitted to reduce the height by one storey and reduce the number of rooms by 22:

·         Communal kitchen-diner spaces on each floor have been amalgamated to be provided at ground and uppermost floors.


Members received a presentation which included detailed location photographs, floor plans, street views and aerial views, room layouts, elevations, sustainability as well as highway, heritage and sustainability considerations. The presentation concluded with a summary of the potential benefits and harms of the project.


The application was recommended for approval subject to completion of a S106 Agreement relating to the matters identified and subject to conditions as set out in report, but with secondary recommendation to REFUSE permission in the event the S106 Agreement was not completed within the requisite timeframe.


In response to queries from Members, the Principal Project Manager (Development) (HHS) clarified that:-

·         the revised scheme reducing the height by one story was now the maximum acceptable;

·         any scheme increasing height over the existing would have impact in terms of daylight;

·         reducing the size (as opposed to height) of the project would only yield marginal benefits in terms of daylight;

·         the NHS had been consulted but had not requested a Section 106 contribution;

·         noise levels from the Unit 1 nightclub had been considered;

·         the design for the submitted project had been considered;

·         the type of accommodation offered by the project was not an in principle reason for refusal;

·         the national guidance for affordable housing for build-to-rent schemes was 20%.


Mr Petrou, speaking against the application on behalf of Acland House residents, made the following points:-

·         eight properties would see a total loss of 100% winter annual probable sunlight hours;

·         no attempt had been made to mitigate the impact on light for the residents at the front of Acland House through the design of the building;

·         the new development would be directly overlooking Acland House, diminishing the privacy of many of its residents;

·         the height of the proposal was not in keeping with the surroundings and the lay of the land;

·         there was no critical need for housing in the area; and

·         the demolition of the extant buildings scheme would cause a worrying amount of noise.


Responding to questions from Members, he clarified that he was not opposed to the principle of a development on the site but that the one proposed would adversely affect Acland House residents.


Mr Ruddle, speaking in support of the application, made the following points:-

·         the proposal would offer high-quality housing to young professionals, with EPC ‘A’ accreditation;

·         there had been a rigorous consultation process, which had resulted in significant reduction in height;

·         the developer acknowledged the issue around loss of daylight for Acland House residents and had, as a result, carried out detailed assessments.


He responded as follows to queries from Members:-

·         the London guidance around room sizes in communal living developments was the only guidance available in the country;

·         the freehold of the property was owned by Exeter City Council;

·         on the issue of loss of light, mitigation was the only option;

·         the development was not aimed at students;

·         bathrooms would have a ‘pod’ configuration;

·         there would be an on-site manager available 24/7;

·         the opening hours for the roof garden would be decided by the management company;

·         it was expected that the 20% of affordable housing in the development would cover different sizes and price points and not just the cheapest option;

·         no surcharge to tenants would be made for the cost of the management company or use of any of the communal facilities on site; and

·         the developer had currently included no definitive restriction on having more than one occupant per room.


The Director City Development made the following concluding points:-

·         the developer had significantly revised the original proposal;

·         the expectation was that there would be a development on the site;

·         communal living did make a contribution towards addressing housing needs and was an attractive proposition to young people;

·         everything rested on planning balance;

·         although the ownership of the freehold was irrelevant to the professional assessment of the City Development team, it was a fact that Exeter needed such a project.


During debate, Members expressed the following views:-

·         the issue around loss of daylight was overwhelming;

·         any building of two storeys would have an impact on daylight for Acland House residents;

·         no detailed analysis had been provided on whether such types of occupations were needed;

·         the room sizes and communal spaces were inadequate;

·         NHS support was noted;

·         the proposed development would help workers facing difficulty in finding accommodation in Exeter;

·         the emotional comments from the objector were compelling;

·         the site was clearly a development site and the real question was needed to be done with such brownfield sites and how the city could be serviced;

·         development of this site was envisaged at the time that neighbouring flats were built; and

·         the development was sustainable.


The Chair moved the recommendation for approval which was seconded, voted upon and CARRIED.


RESOLVED that the application for Demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a 145 bedspace co-living Development (up to 6 storeys in height) and associated works be APPROVED subject to completion of a S106 Agreement relating to the matters identified and subject to conditions as set out in the report.




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