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21/1564/OUT | Outline planning application with all matters considered in detail except landscaping, for the demolition of the existing buildings and construction of mixed-use development comprising Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (Sui Generis) and Co-Living (Sui Generis) with associated infrastructure. (Revised plans received) | Former Police Station And Magistrates Court Heavitree Road Exeter Devon EX1 2LR
  • Total Consulted: 578
  • Comments Received: 116
  • Objections: 115
  • Supporting: 0

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Mr Michael Higgins (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Mon 31 Oct 2022

Email 26 October 2022
Dear Matt

Please could you register my objection to this application so that I am advised of the receipt of any revised plans.
You can put the grounds of my objection as inappropriate scale/massing and design, poor residential amenity and adverse impact on surrounding properties.
Thanks, hope all is well.

(Michael Higgins)

Ms Francis King (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Tue 19 Jul 2022

Email 17 July 2022
Dear Mr Diamond

Thank you very much for your help and further link regarding the above application which worked and I have been able to read.

However, I was unable to find where I can find the necessary form in which to send my objection, therefore, I have chosen to write to you separately by email as follows.

1. As we have so much student accommodation in Exeter, not least the 3 massive buildings around the bus station, I wonder why exactly we need another 689 student units. Are all the units I refer to taken and fully let or sold? What is seriously needed is residential accommodation and affordable housing yet all it supplies is 340 Co-Living units, half that offered in student accommodation and nothing for families.

2. I seriously feel that two blocks of 7 and 8 floors is going to be completely out of keeping with the area and be overwhelming. The developer's argument on scale, massing and form doesn't stack-up

3. The landscaping looks commendable but why do the existing healthy trees already there have to come down? I agree there are a few weak trees which are very much passed their best but surely the Council can't be seriously considering letting any developer take down the beautiful copper beech on the front? There are several others such as birch, a lovely large evergreen and a couple of flowering cherries to the left and one, seemingly out of the boundary for development, on the opposite corner which would help to alleviate the stark reality of the proposed buildings if the plans do go ahead. I also worry that presumably the responsibility of the landscaping will be left to the developer and I cite the heralding of how the landscaping at IKEA was published but the developer, true to form, didn't look after the trees after planting and consequently most of them have died and those that are still alive are weak; it seems that neither the Council nor IKEA seem to be able or willing to do anything about it - so in the event that landscaping is pretty pathetic and certainly doesn't achieve what it was supposed to. At least with existing trees, after their necessary protection during the development, when the development is completed they don't have to be maintained. There is also the added detail that Waitrose next door kept their trees leaving a very pleasant green break between development and highway.

In conclusion I feel this development is poorly thought out and has a feel of developer control and manipulation that so many of us are more and more aware of. This is a site that could be extremely valuable for affordable homes for single people and families who are working and living in Exeter in desperate need of finding accommodation, and who are sorely needed for businesses to flourish. I feel it will be a sad waste of a valuable site and opportunity if the Council approve this application as it is presented.

Thank you for reading my objection to the above application.

Yours sincerely
Ms Frances King
4 Clyst Heath, EX2 7TA

Comment submitted date: Thu 18 Nov 2021

I am writing to strongly object to the above application for student flats on the old Heavitree Police Station site.

Exeter is now awash with student flats, we have all the dreadful 'block' units built around the bus station and no more of our precious brown field sites in easy distance of possible employment must be taken up for them when there is such a pressing need for affordable housing in such areas.

The statement that "the student accommodation and co-living buildings have been designed to create a vibrant community with a dedicated communal amenity provision, promoting social interaction, wellbeing and activation" is just a sales and marketing statement. The design is 5 and 6 stories high and completely out of step with the surrounding area. This site has to be used for desperately needed accommodation for local people not for the profits of developers or second home owners.

I would also like to add that there are many established trees on the site which need to be saved but the design shows otherwise. The Council forced the Waitrose development next door to keep the trees, therefore, the same must apply to the Heavitree Police Station site.

Unfortunately there were many trees on the old Deaf School site in Topsham Road but they were mostly felled and, incidentally, I understand many of the conditional affordable houses have been slithered out of by the developers - again.

You must know that people are getting so angry at the appalling use of land that Councils are allowing, it has to stop.

Yours faithfully
Ms Frances King

Mr Anthony Orchard (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Tue 19 Jul 2022

Further to my earlier comments, nothing of substance has changed. This cynical development remains totally inappropriate for this location. The consultants remain totally unobjective, e.g. (exsiting proposal 44 P25), ' the proposed scheme sits naturally and comfortably in its setting and continues a naturally layering of townscape working positively with the natural gradient of the topography'. What rubbish - these six storey buildings at the top of a slope sit alongside the 2/3 storey (max) domestic scale buildings and the historic St. Lukes; all these buildings well set back from the road with deep landscaping to the frontage. The developers have taken no notice of the large number of objections; have not held a public consultation and their only noticeable changes are to add light wells to the semi-basement accommodation and to increase the minimum size of the Co-living rooms from 13 to 18s.m. The original application clearly did not provide sufficient natural light (nor does the current) and 13s.m showed a complete contempt for the well being of the occupants. There is a location for a relatively high student accommodation block and that is Clarendon House not here.

Comment submitted date: Fri 04 Feb 2022

The applicants have clearly taken no notice of the 117 objections and the modifications are so insignificant as to be laughable. I am sorry for the poor trees that have introduced onto the frontage set in what the applicants admit to be a hostile hard environment. I note that they have actually increased the number of rooms rather than reducing by at least three storeys the height and reducing the footprint as the objectors have requested with reference to the surrounding areas. My original objections remain in full

Comment submitted date: Sun 14 Nov 2021

Objection to Planning application: 21/1564/OUT
Old Police Station and Magistrates Court, Heavitree Road, EX1 2LR

As local residents, we wish to object strongly to this is application on the following grounds:

1. Planning process

There has been no Public Consultation, unlike - for example - the recent application for the adjacent site (19/1417/FUL). It is particularly important that there should be public consultation BEFORE even an outline application is submitted as so many people not only in the immediate vicinity but also from afar will be affected by a development of this scale.

The development not only destroys existing mature trees, but the application does not include a full landscape scheme. This is a legal requirement.

The applicants acknowledge that they were under contractual obligations, by virtue of the sales contract, to submit the application by September 2021. This meant shortcuts were taken. Particularly bearing in mind that the vendor is a Public Authority, pushing its purchaser to make shortcuts in the planning process cannot be acceptable.

In addition the visuals are presented in certain cases in a way that can only be described as misleading, for example that showing the lawn of St. Luke's that makes it look like front landscaping to the proposed development.

2. Nature of the development

This proposal is for 1029 bedspaces on a site of 1.25ha in buildings of 32,989sm. This is 830 bedspaces/ha.
The buildings are 7 and 8 storeys high.

This compares to the recently completed Depot development of a 7 storey building for 716 bedspaces and many such recent developments of PBSAs of around 150. The Depot may have been approved in the context of a previously run down area of the city center (although recent activity highlights how brutally inappropriate this development is, architecturally). We strongly resist this precedent being taken and applied en bloc.

To achieve this density the buildings occupy an abnormally high percentage of the site and extend right down to existing pavements on Heavitree and Gladstone Roads.

There are courtyards surrounded on all four sides by 7/8 storey blocks which will not get sunlight except for short periods and nor will the rooms around the courtyards at lower levels. The hard and soft landscaping inside the courtyards will inevitably deterioriate and lack of sunlight to rooms will be deleterious to the health of occupants. This element of this design compares badly with The Ambulance Station which has a generous courtyard with one side entirely open.

3. Location

The Cotswold Archaeology Report commissioned by the applicants contains 5.24: "The wide straight nature of Heavitree Road affords long views east to west providing clear visual connections towards the city centre to the west and the generally low level suburban townscape to the east". Even the Design Brief from the developers changed from its initial intent to create a gateway building (which was both an arrogant assumption that Exeter needed a 'gateway building' and that a 7/8 storey indifferent and brutal design could provide a 'triumphal entrance' to a historic city) to "creating a development that resonated with its semi-urban and suburban context, vernacular and prevailing materiality".

The Depot is within Western Way which defines the boundary of City Centre and suburbs and in an area of tall commercial buildings, both post war and contemporary. If the proposed Heavitree Road development were placed in that context, it might feel at home. Placing it a suburban location is totally contrary to Exeter's Local Plan - 5.41 which says that development should be of a height which is appropriate to the surrounding townscape and of a volume and shape which relates well to adjoining buildings.

The applicant's planning statement seeks to draw equivalence between the Cheeke Street developments (including The Depot), Renslade House, which is a conversion of an office building with the backdrop of the City hillside and their scheme. The locations are not equivalent at all.

This is a matter drawn to the attention of the developers by ECC's Heritage Officer who says that "the height and massing coupled with topography creates an inevitable negative effect".

The site is also in the middle (but not part of) several Conservation Areas with St. Leonard's just 10m away.

As Cotswold Archaeology say (6.4), "there is high potential for the proposed development to be visible with views to, within and from a number of designated (heritage) assets and non-designated heritage assets with the potential to cause some amount of harm to their heritage significance or appreciation of it from its setting"

Within 0.5km there are 83 Listed Buildings within 6 Conservation Areas immediately adjacent.

Heavitree Road from the junction with Polsloe Road down to Clifton Road has a remarkable and unusual characteristic of having all the buildings well set back (especially on the `northern side) with mature trees and landscaping and even a small park in front of Waitrose. The old Police Station respected this tradition and is well set back with landscaping. Even the new Ambulance Station site was set back further than initially proposed to give a substantial landscape strip to Gladstone Road.

Why should this development be allowed to destroy the continuity of this delightful approach to the City Centre ?

4. Demand

In the 2012 Local Plan, the then student population of 12,929 was projected to increase by 3,300 by 2025/26 with 75% (2,500) to be accommodated in PBSAs. In the subsequent 9 years, this provision has been exceeded even by developments on the Streatham campus let alone the commercial developments in the central City. The student population has indeed increased to around 22,000 leading to developers wishing to build additional highly profitable PBSAs and, as has happened with the Harlequins and the Depot, seeking to redesignate multiple use schemes as student housing or 'Co-living'. Perhaps the University which we all want to support should be providing for the demand created by their expansion well beyond the 2012 and 2018 projection (Professor Smith Planning Report 2018) or allowing commercial developers to build on the main Campus.

This scheme provides for 689 PBSA's and 340 Co-living. Analysis of the gross space allocated to each of these uses shows almost identical space allocation to each of 33s.m. In terms of design and space there is no difference between the two designations purporting to cater for different markets. The intention of this designation is not only to facilitate planning but to capture demand from post-grads and young professionals but offering them tiny spaces at rents identical to the high rents of the PBSAs.

Should the design of the living accommodation be similar to that of other PBSAs in central Exeter and the space allocations here appear to indicate that, the rooms will be extremely small and will contain showers, desk and in some cases individual kitchenettes. Living in such spaces is unlikely to be good for the health of the occupants and the physical environments can deteriorate very fast even if occupied by the fastidious. The rooms go down to 13.5 sqm and the studios 16.3 sqm. Students are responsible for cleaning their own rooms and shared facilities.

But assuming that there is demand for these facilities, there is also demand from local people for purpose built, low energy, affordable accommodation in central locations. Other historic cities, including York and Norwich, have shown that well designed schemes can offer high density use of land with well landscaped environments. This site would be highly suitable for such developments particularly with its location adjacent to Conservation Areas, the St. Luke's campus and the high density housing from the C19 adjacent.

No demand analysis showing the developments created since 2012 and those in the pipeline has been provided.

The student exemption prevent the Council even receiving Council Tax.

5. Summary

The application is incomplete; poorly presented (especially in comparison to that for the Ambulance Station) and there has been no public consultation. The timing appears to be driven by the contractual demands of the vendors.

It has no respect for the nature of the location and the streetscape which is not City Centre but an attractive suburban main approach to the Centre with buildings well set back and extensive landscaping.

It is vastly out of scale and should be no higher than the well designed and proportionate student housing at Atlas House.

There is also demand for non-student housing and this would be a highly appropriate site for a development serving local people. As was New Town, next to the proposed site, when it was first developed.

We ask that this application be rejected or at least deferred until there has been public consultation.

Tony Orchard

Mrs lorraine hayes (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Mon 18 Jul 2022

The proposed plans for the former Heavitree Police Station and Courts should be rejected as the buildings are far too high and cover virtually the whole area right down to Heavitree Road bar narrow strip of supposed tree re-planting. I note all existing trees would be felled, bar one which is actually OUTSIDE the boundary of the site and in St Matthews Close!!
The photos on Devon Live website show an image taken from and including the grass area in front of St Luke's College building, giving the impression of a large landscape area in front of the proposed building, where there isn't going to be one.
There is an awful parking situation in St Matthews Close and Sandford Walk due to the current build on the old Ambulance site, the residents parking area at the west elevation is virtually unusable due to workmen parking in residents spaces and daily deliveries by huge artic lorries occupying the car park. At least parking on the pavement has been stopped where wheelchair access is required at all times.
My concern is where will the builders toilets and offices be sited and access for lorry deliveries be on the police station site ?
Will any of the work site encroach again on St Matthews Close and our Residents parking and access roads. I cannot see a plan of where the police station site offices and toilet containers will be placed, indeed at present we have two double height containers of building works offices and toilets on the ambulance site right against our Sandford Walk back lane wall with no indication that we would have to put up with them for the whole time of the build when those plans were submitted, only after the application was passed was an email of the site offices and toilets plan sent to me and they were then already in situ.
The proposed names for the buildings, Higher and Lower Workhouses do nothing to enhance them, although they likely reflect how small and crammed the apartments will be!! At least the original workhouse and then Higher and Lower Annex wards as part of RD@E Hospital, on Heavitree Road was renamed Atlas House.
Lorraine Hayes
Resident Sandford Walk

Mr geoff tipping (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Sun 17 Jul 2022

Saved Policy H5 states that: "The conversion of dwellings to flats, self-contained bedsitters or houses in multiple occupation and the development of special needs or student housing will be permitted provided that: - the scale and intensity of use will not harm the character of the building and locality and will not cause an unacceptable reduction in the amenity of neighbouring occupiers or result in on-street parking problems; - the proposal will not create an over concentration of the use in any one area of the city which would change the character of the neighbourhood or create an imbalance in the local community; - special needs housing is located close to local shops and services, community facilities and bus routes; - student accommodation is located so as to limit the need to travel to the campus by car."

Since the original application was made it is now possible to consider the application along side the adjoining development of student housing particularly with regards to the overall height and massing of the proposed scheme .

Fire station site : This is 5 storey ,actually 4.5 as the top floor is within the pitched roof.

Proposed development : 8 storey,

You can now view for the first time the fire station scheme on the skyline from Summerland Street and i feel it is essential for all committee members to go and take in this view and visualize the proposed scheme topping out at nearly TWICE the height. The fire station scheme tops at at almost exactly the height on this sky line as the same height as St Matthews Church, ( we live next door) .

How can this possibly be justified when considering policy H5 or indeed by any rational individual.

The height alone is not however the most offensive aspect of this development, it is the encroachment on the houses in Higher Summerlands, even the revised planting scheme has cloured in green the narrow path along the front of these houses as if it is being considered as part of the overall scheme WHY. To lose ALL of the planting along this cordon sanitaire , open space, habitat at a time when Exeter pretends to be concerned about the environment, global warming, carbon foot prints etc is a public disgrace of the highest order and for this reason alone the application should be refused.


Miss K Hall (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Sat 16 Jul 2022

I am writing in support of comments made previously by others.

For someone who uses the road a lot (both on foot and by car), Heavitree Road offers an attractive welcome to the city centre with St Luke's on one side and the beautiful trees and greenery on the other, with any buildings set back from the road - such as Atlas House and Waitrose. The same is true of the ex-Police station. The current buildings do not encroach on the view of the surrounding hills and do not hinder the light or create wind tunnels. There is now the opportunity to create an a similar type of building which fits in and enhances its setting. It could retain the height and ground plan of the old building and add to the built environment by adopting green building design principles, which are vital going forward. It could also maintain all or most of the existing vegetation, including the gorgeous cherry trees which blossom beautifully each Spring and feed insects and birds. Indeed, organisations such as the National Trust and the Woodland Trust are trying to encourage the planting of more of such trees nationally. Instead, in Exeter, we have developers who are actively setting out to do the very opposite.

Furthermore, the proposed building is huge and domineering, echoing other student accommodation such as the Barn. The streets around the Barn are now cold, echo and windy, with a lack of light and greenery. In fact, they are depressing. Everything that good town planning should not encourage.

There is volumes of research out there which shows what is good for people and nature in terms of the built environment and yet again, it is being completely ignored. Surely the current heatwave emphasises yet again the need for maintaining and increasing the numbers of trees and green spaces, for example!

Finally, I would echo all the other comments which highlight the very high level of need for affordable housing for other groups of people in Exeter, such as young families.

Mr Dominic Leaver (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Thu 14 Jul 2022


I wish to reconfirm my previous OBJECTION for the same reasons.
Dominic Leaver
Leaver Consultancy Limited

Comment submitted date: Fri 10 Dec 2021

I object to the application.

1. It is out of scale in terms of height. All neighbouring residential properties are 2 storey or 2 storey with attic/ loft. Waitrose is single storey but is not higher than the existing houses. (I hope that this application isn't withdrawn and resubmitted one storey lower to seemingly appease the objectors as is the usual strategy of developers.)
2. It is not set back from the road with soft landscaping. Waitrose and St Lukes have green spaces with an abundance of trees.
3. There is no architectural relationship to St Lukes. A missed opportunity to align the axis of the main entrance of St Lukes with the centre or entrance to the proposed development.
4. Parking is insufficient for 1,000+ occupants.
5. Traffic infrastructure is not suitable for increase in traffic - the crossing over Gladstone Road at the Heavitree Road junction and the crossing over College Road at the junction with Heavitree Road is already dangerous for pedestrians.
6. If co-living, does not prohibit students living in the proposed development, so it's just student accommodation by another name and therefore is a misrepresentation of the application submitted.
7. The Heavitree Road elevation is so close to the pavement it will compromise the privacy of the properties on the other side of the road, no. 68 to 78 Heavitree Road.

Additional Leaver: I reconfirm my objection.

The revised plans do nothing to rectify any of the objections that I have previously made so I refer you to my original objection to the original plans, which has not changed.

It remains far too overdeveloped because it is 7 storeys and extends to the boundaries of the site. The proposals do not have any relationship with the density of the surrounding dwellings.

Also, I query the attractiveness of living in a development with a straight line corridor 50m long with 18 bed-sit doors to very small rooms.

Amendments to the tree planting proposals do nothing to address the lack of green space around and within the proposal that is completely lacking compared to St Lukes, Waitrose and Atlas House sites.

Dominic Leaver

Add Objection:

Thank you for your letter advising revised information.

I reconfirm my objection.

The revised plans do nothing to rectify any of the objections that I have previously made so I refer you to my original objection to the original plans, which has not changed.

It remains far too overdeveloped because it is 7 storeys and extends to the boundaries of the site. The proposals do not have any relationship with the density of the surrounding dwellings.

Also, I query the attractiveness of living in a development with a straight line corridor 50m long with 18 bed-sit doors to very small rooms.

Amendments to the tree planting proposals do nothing to address the lack of green space around and within the proposal that is completely lacking compared to St Lukes, Waitrose and Atlas House sites.

Dominic Leaver

Ms Annie Harvey (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Mon 11 Jul 2022

Dear Mathew

I have attempted to comment on this application online but your site crashes continually. I assume this is due to the amount of people objecting to this proposal.

I have absolutely NO hope that the council will listen to the residents of Exeter about this but PLEASE could Exeter have housing for our rough sleepers, our young people and families rather than yet more ugly expensive student accommodation that has already ruined our beautiful city.

I log on to many of these developments and they are rarely full. We do not need more.
The idea of Sui Generis (the way to get plans through) is ridiculous. The cost is prohibitive and what sane person would wish to live in a block with 600+ students.

What arrangements have been made for parking? The council tax paying residents of nearby streets are already finding it hard to park. A Residents' Permit, we are told, does not entitle you to place.

I was born in Exeter, left when I was 18 and returned a few years ago. When I see what the council has done/is doing to this lovely city, I wish I had moved elsewhere. Waitrose ill benefit, but who else will?

I cannot think of a single person who is in favour of what is happening and none of us feel that ECC ever listen.
I am happy for this to be posted on the website.

Annie Harvey

Miss Rebecca Bower (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Sat 09 Jul 2022

This development is far too large and too high for the area it is within. It is also unacceptable to cut down mature trees to make way for the development - planting saplings in their place is not the same. The openness of the site needs to be maintained as it is a welcome area of green along the busy road.

Mrs Anna Ingram (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Fri 08 Jul 2022

Once again developers plan to raise the skyline of Exeter and spoil the look of our city. The height proposed is entirely out of keeping with the surrounding area. I also object to the removal of mature trees to make way for the development - planting saplings elsewhere to replace them is unacceptable in an age when we should be maintaining the trees that we have in the interest of both citizens' wellbeing and wildlife.

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