We are pleased to report that the 26 bed PBSA application on the site of the closed Maximum Motors garage was refused at Planning Committee on 27 March, though it is unlikely that this will be the end of the matter as an appeal is expected. 

The planning officers had been minded to approve the application under delegated powers, but our councillors’ request that the application should be brought to Planning Committee was agreed, in no small part because of the large number of objections that had been received.

Well done to all who made their views known and brought about this action! According to the Planning Officer’s Report a total of 77 of the 80 representations submitted during the original or subsequent consultation period were objections, two neutral and only one in support.

Please read the Trust report of these proceedings and the very important implications for future action here.


Previously reported opposition to the conversion of Beaufort House in New North Road to 107 room student accommodation has been approved by officers’ delegated powers without being presented to the Planning Committee for consideration despite residents’ objections and the opposition of our local city councillors.

The key issue on which refusal could be argued – community imbalance in St James – was dismissed by the Officer’s Report for the Delegation Briefing with this astonishing admission:

The City Council does not currently define community imbalance in any planning documents. … The lack of definition makes it difficult to provide evidence that the proposal fails to comply with policy.

The relevant policy, H5 of the Local Plan (2005), was designed to ensure diversity of housing provision but over time the development of student housing in St James has far outstripped that of all other demographic groups. Far from ensuring a sustainable diverse community, planning decisions have been leading towards further student ghettoisation in direct contravention to the central thrust of our Neighbourhood Plan: the desire of residents to have a diverse population which includes people at all stages of their lives and which is not dominated by a single group.

The Planning Officer’s Report suggests consideration is to be given to a new definition of community balance in a forthcoming review of policy. Dismayed at the failure of the City Council to stem the tide of community imbalance the Trust would urge residents and other interested parties to make their views clear whenever consultation over this promised review takes place.

Read the Trust commentary on this recent planning decision here.


We are grateful to the Safer Exeter Community Sparks Fund for the award of a grant which has enabled the Trust to source and purchase a replacement noticeboard for Queen’s Crescent Garden. The old one had seen better days and was no longer fit for purpose. Now we have a brand new splendid noticeboard, an imposing feature to the garden’s Longbrook Street entrance.

In this prominent position it is visible to all pasersby and will serve to inform the public of the Trust’s work in enhancing our local community. Another improvement to the garden environment, we hope the noticeboard will further help to engender a sense of pride in the public ownership of this green haven at the heart of our city.


At its meeting on Wednesday 8 February the City Planning Commitee met to consider the application to develop a 26 bed purpose built student accommodation block on the old Maximum Motors site in Howell Road (detail here). Each of our three Ward Councillors as well as Trust Chair, Robyn Connett, spoke in turn to argue the case for rejecting the Officer’s recommendation that permision be granted relying on the key aim of the Neighbourhood Plan “to ensure an appropriate balance between student resident and permanent resident population to ensure the sustainability of the community”.

Thanks to all who submitted comments as the large number of individuals objecting to the proposal was noted by the meeting and played no small part in helping to inform Members’ decision. In the event they voted convincingly not to accept the recommendation but a decision was deferred to a later meeting to allow the Planning Officer to prepare a revised Report with robust rationale for refusal. We await the application’s return to Planning Committe when confirmation of the decision to refuse is eagerly anticipated.

Watch this space – your support may well be needed again!