AGM 2024

All members are cordially invited to attend the AGM to be held on Tuesday 2 July 6.15pm St Sidwell’s Primary School York Road Exeter

6.15pm Registration 6.30pm Business Meeting

followed by

‘Our Neighbourhood Plan – its achievements and lessons learned for a future Plan’

a presentation by Frazer Osment Chair of LDA Design co-architect of Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan

Click on the headings below to view/download documents:






Please print documents; no copies will be available at the meeting

Please note:

Director Nomination Forms must be returned no later than Tuesday 25 June

Online Proxy Forms must be returned no later than 6.15pm on Monday 1 July

If you are unable to attend please use the Proxy Form to appoint your voting representative.


The Trust has learnt that the refusal of the application 21/1014/FUL for a 26 bed student accommodation block (PBSA) on the former Maximum Motors’ site in Howell Road (see News Archive for previous coverage relating to this proposal) has been overturned at appeal, although the related application for award of costs against the Council has been refused. Despite the permission being contingent upon 18 conditions including a pre-approved management plan, this is not only extremely disappointing, but baffling.

Amongst other grounds, not least the threat to sustainability presented by the worsening of the existing community imbalance, with temporary student residents comprising more than half of the total resident population, the Trust and Exeter St James Forum before it, with the full support of our city councillors, had argued that the proposal was contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan’s Community Policy C2a.

The preamble to Policy C2, which serves as guidance for the interpretation of the policy wording, explains that in St James, with its largely intact residential character with tight pattern of streets and spaces, there are few areas apart from Sidwell Street where large scale (10 or more bed) purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) may be appropriately integrated.

Policy C2, worded positively as required, then states:

Large scale purpose built student accommodation will be permitted in areas where it can be properly integrated into the urban area

before listing three location descriptions which must be met for such integration to be deemed acceptable.

C2a sets out the first location description as follows:

locations a) that are not predominantly characterised by intact streets of traditional terraced, semi-detached and detached forms of 2-3 storey residential development;

The Inspector acknowledges that ‘the location around the appeal site comprises some intact streets of traditional terraced, semi-detached and detached forms of 2-3 storey residential development’ yet concludes this large-scale PBSA is compliant with Neighbourhood Plan Policy C2a, apparently by focusing on the one street, Howell Road, and even then solely on the few non-residential elements, noting the former garage site itself, the brick wall surrounding (residential) Horseguards and the nearby prison wall.

It is hard to comprehend how the various intact residential streets in the immediate vicinity of the development site, Danes Road, Hoopern Street, and Horseguards together with the predominantly intact residential Howell Road itself, could have been dismissed when reaching this verdict.

It is a serious concern that the sustainability of the community will be further threatened, and regrettable that an opportunity has been lost for development of much-needed homes for local residents on one of the relatively few windfall sites likely to arise in St James owing to closure of commercial premises. However, residents will draw some comfort from knowing that one of the 18 conditions upon which permission is granted states:

No part of the development hereby approved shall be occupied until a management plan has been submitted to and agreed in writing by the local planning authority.

The management plan will include:

i) occupation/letting criteria,

ii) staff support/control,

iii) student discipline,

iv) car ownership/parking,

v) security, and,

vi) an arrival/departure procedure.

Immediately upon occupation of the development, the developer shall implement the management plan. Following implementation of the management plan, there must be no variation of it without the prior written agreement of the local planning authority.

The Trust will urge the local planning authority to insist that, under this plan, management contact details are made available to local residents to facilitate swift resolution of any issues that may arise.

This disappointing outcome will provide useful food for thought should residents come forward with the vision and determination to prepare a new neighbourhood plan to replace the current plan which in any case is due to expire in 2028. The Trust very much hopes that this will be the case, with other areas of the city already considering the merits of neighbourhood planning for their own areas.

See the decision notice for the Appeal here and the Application for Award here.



What do YOU say? Have the revisions successfully transformed an unacceptably ‘poor response to the setting’ into a well-designed development St James’ needs?

The original proposal, shown above, was highly and widely criticised by professionals as well as local residents in the many responses to the consultation last August / September, identifying it as ‘over-development’, ‘poor response unsympathetic to its context’, ‘fundamentally unsuitable for this site’, ‘overbearing on nearby properties’ etc.

A damning verdict – and the applicant was advised by planning officers they would not be able to recommend approval. So, pre-empting refusal, a revised proposal has been submitted.

How does this compare? (see below)

Unless you are of the opinion that this is the kind of development St James needs and believe that some tinkering with specific design issues has responded satisfactorily to the overarching design objection, and that the proposal can no longer be described as overbearing and fundamentally unsuitable for the site, and in addition are not concerned there would be a worsening community balance caused either by the proposed co-living use, nor the implicitly evidenced intended use as student accommodation ……… please add your response to the outcry, whether or not you objected during the initial consultation.  Click for further information and commentary here.

Closing date for comments now confirmed as 5 May


Recently installed CCTV comes to QCG

The need for a camera in this position has long been considered very important by Exeter’s Community Safety Partnership and Dennis Cavanagh, ECC’s CCTV Control Centre Manager, is impressed by the far better coverage made available by this camera, not only of the Garden, but of Queen’s Crescent, Longbrook Street, and York Road, including the Mosque and St Sidwell’s Primary School.

Two stills taken from the CCTV covering Queen’s Crescent Garden

Dennis says, “As a key transit route for university students and Exeter residents in the North of the City this addition further demonstrates the Council’s commitment to the Safer Women at Night initiative.”

Inspector Simon Arliss, with whom the Directors have been working since 2018, specifically identified QCG as a key site for a camera in the original Safer Central Exeter funding bid and hopes are high that as well as providing evidence for dealing with any serious incidents, it will act as a very useful deterrent to the low level ASB including fly tipping and vandalism that has been occurring from time to time.


We know that many residents across St James appreciate the architectural heritage of the area and are keen to see the conservation areas enhanced. If this is you, this second application will certainly be one to which you will want to add your voice to a call for refusal.

Application 23/1424/FUL, seeks to replace a private garage on Oxford Road at the rear of 5-6 Well Street, with a two-storey, two-bedroom dwelling for three persons. It is one of a number of similar one-storey buildings, mainly private garages, at the York Road end of Oxford Road, directly facing the important Grade II listed Georgian terrace of 4-18 Oxford Road, but which are identified in the St Sidwell’s Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan as ‘buildings that do not make a positive contribution to the character of the area’. 

Replacement of the garage would therefore be welcomed if this enhanced the townscape, but sadly the proposed design is such that it would, to the contrary, have a detrimental impact on Oxford Road and the St Sidwell’s Conservation Area.

By failing to enhance the conservation area the design does not meet the criteria of NP design policy D1 or the Local Plan Design Policy D4 for many reasons, including sub-standard provision of internal and external space for the proposed occupants, as well as negatively impacting the privacy, daylight and outdoor amenity space currently ascribed to existing flats above 5-6 Well Street, creating an overbearing, hemmed-in outlook for the existing residents.

The NP states:

The best way to ensure heritage is protected is through good design as required by Policy D1, in particular with regard to build scale, form, massing, setback and materials.

In this case the design fails in all these matters, so is also non-compliant with NP Heritage Policy H1, which states:

Heritage Development affecting heritage assets within St James must pay special regard to the need to conserve and enhance their settings and any special architectural or historic features of significance.   

Comments to this application may be made online or by email to the case officer, Matt Hall, [email protected] As above, if you wish your comment to be counted as an objection, please mark it as such to avoid any doubt, and again copy to the planning department and councillors.


This follows a recent Appeal Decision Notice whereby H M Inspectorate upheld the City Council’s refusal decision of a 10 bed PBSA on the same footprint. The new proposal counts as a small PBSA in NP terms, and so Policy C3 which does not permit such development where it would ‘prejudice the objective of creating a balanced community’ is very relevant.

Policy EN4 which was cited by the Inspector when dismissing the applicant’s appeal over the refusal of his 10 bed PBSA application, is also relevant. EN4 is designed to protect residential gardens from development and states: Development which results in the loss of or significant harm to the ecological or landscape value of private residential gardens will not normally be permitted

Although the whole of St James suffers when development in any part of our patch worsens the existing community imbalance, those living in the immediate vicinity are always most impacted. Please show support for those who in this case have been enduring the anxiety during the months finally leading to the refusal decision of the original application, followed by further months awaiting the outcome of the Appeal, only now to face this new application. The NP is designed to help protect us all; we all need to continue to show our determination that the policies of the NP will be given due weight wherever the specific application site.

Comments may be made online or by email to the Case Officer, Leigh Powell, [email protected]. Make sure you state OBJECTION if you are opposed to the proposal to make sure it is added to the intended tally! (It always helps to cc [email protected] as well as our councillors, [email protected][email protected] and [email protected])


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.

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.


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).


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.