This time an application to build a two storey purpose built student accommodation block comprising 6 bedrooms in the rear garden of 70 Pennsylvania Road. Clearly non-compliant with our Neighbourhood Plan by worsening community imbalance, it is over-intensification of building use in a garden which will impact on ecological benefits bordering as it does Devonshire Place Orchard. Furthermore it will reduce the outdoor amenity space for the existing occupants of the property. Again, another inappropriate development in the Longbrook Conservation Area.

In the interest of community balance and defence of the Neighbourhood Plan please send in your objections via the Council’s Planning Portal under reference 23/0652/FUL by the closing date of Sunday 1 October.


On Monday 4 September the outline planning application for up to 9 private residential flats on the site of former Maximum Motors garage in Howell Road was presented to Planning Committee. The planning officer recommended approval explaining that, at face value, the proposal was compliant with all relevant policies but grave concern over the genuine nature of this application remains. The owner has stated his intention to develop the site as student accommodation one way or another and, despite this apparently acceptable alternative outline proposal, he will not withdraw the appeal against his recently refused application to build a 26-bed purpose built student accommodation block on the same site.

Consistent with our Neighbourhood Plan this original application was refused on grounds of community balance but what is to stop this new proposal from being used ultimately as student accommodation? If these Howell Road flats were occupied by three or more unrelated individuals, they would be classed as HMOs and subject to an Article 4 Direction (A4D) designed to prevent single households being used as shared houses. However the Council’s own admission – blaming a lack of “resource and scope” – that it had never enforced the A4D in St James does not inspire confidence.

The reassurance given in the Planning Officer’s Report that A4D will protect the proposed flats from use as student HMOs looks like a hollow promise. We must hold the Council to account and should this development go ahead ensure that none of these flats are used as student HMOs.


A planning application for the development of a 101 bed Co-Living block within the compact residential streets of St James has finally landed:

Demolition of existing buildings and dwelling and redevelopment of site to provide 101-bed co-living accommodation with associated accesses/egresses, landscaping and other external works. Repair Garage And 81 Victoria Street Exeter Devon EX4 6JG

The old Vanborn & Radford garage and the magnificent Victorian villa, Wisteria House, behind are to be demolished to make way for the new development.

The applicant states:

Co-living is a residential community living model, that includes the provision for residents to have their own studio, with access to communal amenity. The co-living standard focuses on professionals that enjoy a sense of community whilst having their own private space. Seeking to provide affordable homes for professionals catering for a mobile generation.

The sole focus on “professionals” is misleading. There is nothing to stop students from renting a room and, apart from the fact that non-students may also apply, the provision is virtually identical to the Purpose Built Student Accommodatuion (PBSA) that has sprung up all around the area. The emphasis on the “mobile generation” confirms whether student or non-student the anticipated tenants will be young, transient residents. This is of course entirely at odds with the vision of a sustainable community enshrined in the Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan and its overarching aim to restore community balance through planning decisions.

Is this PBSA by another name? The signs are that that’s exactly what it is and the Trust Board urges all members to submit objections in defence of the Neighbourhood Plan and to arrest the worsening dominance of our community by one demographic group, namely 19-25 year olds.

The deadline for objections to application reference 23/0949/FUL is Sunday 17 September, and you may make your views known online through the Council’s Planning Portal (click on the ‘comments’ tab of the application and follow the link either to register, if first time, or log in) or by emailing the case officer, Christopher Cummings at [email protected] and making sure you wish to object.

Before making a submision please read the Trust’s commentary on this application with pointers for objection here.