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'Hideous' Exeter PBSA Rejected by Councillors

Posted by Aisling Murphy

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

An application for a large PBSA and co-living scheme was submitted by the Police and Crime Commissioner's office and its chosen developer Student Roost in Exeter. However, the development has now been denied approval by Exeter City Councillors.

The proposed location is on the site of the former police station and magistrates' court, on Heavitree Road, opposite St Luke's Campus.

The proposal consisted of two blocks of flats, totalling over 1,000 rooms. These would have replaced the existing buildings on the site, which have been unoccupied since the police moved to a new headquarters at Middlemoor in 2020.

Most of the plan consisted of PBSA beds, with a separate co-living block proposed which would be made available to the wider public, consisting of 358 self-contained units. The blocks would be predominantly six-storeys, plus a basement level.

Plans were revised in June, due to concerns raised over the scale of the initial outline proposal.

However, when Exeter City Council's planning committee met on Monday evening, the scheme was rejected by the vast majority of councillors. There were also 114 public objections written prior to the meeting.

Councillors expressed concerns regarding the design, height and scale of the development, its close proximity to the road, a lack of amenities and the loss of trees and biodiversity.

Councillor Ian Collinson spoke in support of the application, claiming it makes the "best use" of the brownfield site. He said it would provide "much needed housing in a very sustainable location," including 20 per cent affordable housing on the co-living element, and that there was a "presumption in favour" of such developments because the council lacks a five-year housing supply.

He also told councillors that the buildings had been designed by a "top architectural practice," describing them as "strong, bold architecture" for an "ambitious and confident city."

Councillor Jemima Moore (Independent, Newton and St Leonards) spoke out against the proposal for a "multitude of reasons," calling it "not right for this site, the people of Exeter or the development's future residents."

"This development is huge, overbearing and in no way sympathetic to or in-keeping with its surroundings." she said.

Councillor Anne Jobson also objected the plans, described the co-living rooms as "simply too small" and that they would "adversely affect people's wellbeing and mental health."