Welcome to Exeter St James Community Trust



ECC REFUSE application for a six bedroom student accommodation in the rear garden of 70 Pennsylvania Road

As previously highlighted the Appeal Inspector upheld refusal to build student accommodation in the back garden of 47 Union Road (see here) but before waiting for the outcome of the appeal the same applicant submitted a similar application, 23/0652. This time proposing to swallow up the garden of 70 Pennsylvania Road, yet another student HMO in his portfolio. Many Trust members again made their disapproval count by submitting various sound objections. The planning officers agreed and on 23 November issued their decision to refuse, citing wide ranging reasons including non-compliance with a number of policies. All local residents who share the vision of the Neighbourhood Plan will be particularly delighted to note on this occasion that the Refusal Notice makes it clear that ‘the scheme would prejudice the objective of creating a balanced community’.  

Decisions are still awaited for the Co-living application at 81 Victoria Street and for a 3 storey block of flats in he rear ‘gardens’ of 67 /69 Longbrook Street

Dare we expect refusal of these proposals too?

Maximum Motors site in Howell Road

The anticipated appeal against refusal of 21/1014/FUL, an application for 26 bed purpose built student accommodation on the former Maximum Motors site in Howell Road, has now been registered with ref no. APP/Y1110/W/23/3325492.

The 80 individuals or community groups who submitted objections to this application over its protracted consultation periods can be assured that their comments will be read by the inspector, but if there are any additional or revised comments these can be sent to the Inspectorate by 20 December. The appeal ref must be quoted – further details in this letter.

Medieval wall demolished in contravention of planning consent

The Trust has raised the awareness of ECC’s Heritage Officer, Owen Cambridge, to the recent wanton destruction of a medieval clay-bonded local Heavitree and red sandstone wall at the rear of 30 – 32 Longbrook Street that was clearly visible from King William Street. It stood on part of the combined site that was given planning permission in 2018 for purpose built student accommodation (PBSA), with this historic wall incorporated sensitively in the design. The open view from King William Street through to New North Road and Bailey Street as seen in this photograph is the result of the demolition of the medieval wall seen here in the Heritage Statement submitted with the original PBSA application.

Evidence of the demolished wall – site of the former King Billy pub

Mr Cambridge has reacted with appropriate speed, immediately instructing the Estates Surveyor to investigate on site and asked the Planning Enforcement Officer to prepare to take action as soon as the surveyor’s evidence had been gathered and the breach formally confirmed. Subsequently, in an email thanking the Trust for our help, he advised the Trust Chair that the surveyor’s initial report showed that indeed ‘the wall has suffered severe damage’.  He gave his assurance that ECC would be taking this very seriously and that ‘although the authenticity of the wall has been lost permanently’, this ‘does not mean such actions can be done with impunity.’ He has promised to keep the Trust updated.

It is against the backdrop of this act of vandalism that the public are being consulted on a further application for this site, 23/1215/VOC, with deadline for comments 10 December. . . . .


Many Members will recall the protracted process that finally led to permission being granted in 2018 for a purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) development on the former King Billy and Dunn’s Motor’s sites. Efforts in 2017 to persuade ECC to refuse the proposal for such use on grounds of community balance failed and sadly permission for PBSA on the site is not now up for reconsideration.

HOWEVER many significant features upon which approval depended in 2017/18 are being reconsidered and we believe it important to point out some of the key changes the developer is wanting to make as we expect many members will not approve. To assist those who do not have time to compare the myriad of documents and drawings to identify precisely what the developer is seeking, we point out some of the key changes in our commentary here.

If this application is successful it would make a mockery of the process that took place in 2017 (as would become apparent to anyone comparing the new proposals with the description in the 2017 Design and Access Statement (DAS) of the original process and rationale for the decisions agreed at that time).

Developer’s illustrative view of the new PBSA on the former King Billy site

The Board will be submitting a detailed objection on behalf of the Trust but, as ever, numbers of individual objections count. Please take a look and if you agree that any are unacceptable, help raise the numbers by submitting your own objection to one or more of these changes. 

Lower Hoopern Valley

A number of Members have expressed concern that public access to the Valley might be curtailed under the plans being developed by Exeter University and have been anxiously awaiting the follow-up consultation which was initially scheduled for August, but postponed until now. We think many will decide that the delay was worthwhile; on studying the developing plans that are now out for consultation, it is clear that the University has taken seriously the comments made by the public in May on this as well as other key matters.

Fraser Browning, University of Exeter Sustainability Manager, has contacted the Trust keen that our members should participate. He states:

We really value the views of our community and local stakeholders as we look to finalise the designs for the Lower Hoopern Valley. Please consider these plans and let us know your thoughts via the feedback form at the link here.

We are holding an in-person exhibition on Tuesday 28 November 2023 in the Innovation Centre Café between 15.30 and 19.00. The Innovation Centre is building 25 on the campus map – feel free to drop by, chat to us and give your feedback to feed into our plans. 

Have your say on the Exeter Plan and help shape the future of our city

The Exeter Plan, the blueprint which will shape the development of Exeter over the next 20 years. Have your say via the Commonplace website here before the consultation ends 15 January 2024.

Hint – the Council’s vision for the city makes no mention of “community balance” !