Our email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Should next month's AGM decide that ESJF will continue beyond its first five years ..............................
WELL STREET STUDENT DEVELOPMENT: Planning Application Refused
It came as a pleasant surprise to everyone when the Planning Officer's Report to the Planning Committee was published that, counter to all prior indications given by the case officers, the recommendation was REFUSAL on the grounds of St James Neighbourhood Plan Policy C2a. This states that large scale Purpose Built Student Accommodation (over 10 beds) in St James will be permitted only in areas that are not predominantly characterised by intact streets of traditional terraced, semi-detached and detached forms of 2-3 storey residential development.
This decision was confirmed at the Planning Committee meeting on 27 June and is a notable victory for the Neighbourhood Plan, representing the first time that refusal has been recommended solely because of a Policy of the Plan.
However - as the Forum and the majority of objectors, including the Civic Society, also made clear - an even more important reason to refuse the application was that of increasing community imbalance. Picking up on this issue and others, Cllrs. Keith Owen and Kevin Mitchell both spoke at the meeting, making their points very clearly and requesting Planning Members to consider including this issue in the Reasons for Refusal. Cllr. Percy Prowse, a member of Planning Committee, also spoke in support of the Forum and whole community on the matter of imbalance and the failure of Article 4 to control HMO conversion let alone community balance.
It was, therefore, finally agreed that the Reasons for Refusal would be strengthened with the addition of reference to the issue of community balance.
As so often in such cases, the Developer or Applicant may decide to appeal the decision, so for now we await further news.
NEW BUS STATION
A temporary bus station – update
Exeter City Council is currently consulting on more temporary solutions whilst the new bus station is being built.
Click here to see proposals and details of two separate consultation events on Tuesday 5 July and Wednesday 6 July.
EXETER ST JAMES FORUM
FIFTH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
ST SIDWELL’S SCHOOL – SATURDAY 2 JULY 2016 at 4 PM
2. MINUTES of the fourth AGM June 2015 – for accuracy
3. MATTERS ARISING from those minutes
4. MATTERS ARISING from those minutes but not on this
5. STEERING GROUP REPORT for the year 2015/16
6. TREASURER’S REPORT for the year 2015/16
7. FUTURE OF EXETER ST JAMES FORUM
The AGM resolves that ESJF should
(a) continue in existence
(b) be succeeded by an alternative organisation
9. ELECTION OF STEERING GROUP for 2016/17
c. Minute Secretary
d. Membership Secretary
e. 5 other Steering Group members
Appointment of group to set up successor organisation
Arrangements for disbanding
10. ANY OTHER 2016 AGM MATTERS not on this agenda
Motions, proposed and seconded by members of ESJF, should be sent to the Membership Secretary by 5pm on Monday, 20 June.
Nomination forms for election to the Steering Group should be returned to the Membership Secretary by noon on Friday 1 July 2016.
Motions and nomination forms should be sent either by email to: email@example.com or by post to ESJF, c/o St Sidwell's Centre, Sidwell Street, Exeter EX4 6NN
QUEEN'S CRESCENT GARDEN
A Significant Milestone in the Queen's Crescent Garden's Compulsory Purchase Process has been Reached!
Exeter City Council has completed the draft Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of Queen's Crescent Garden against an unknown owner, it has been through a technical examination by Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and is now being advertised in the Express and Echo and in the vicinity of the Garden. The Notice and additional information can also be found on the Council's website (click to view).
Over the next 3 weeks, by 24 June 2016, we must wait while any serious contester to the Order is given opportunity to register their challenge with DCLG. ECC has stated that: 'Should a good claim to the Land be forthcoming through the CPO process, then the Council would seek to negotiate by agreement and would ensure that it was clearly understood that the claimant would be expected to undertake future maintenance responsibility for the Land if the claimant retains control.'
It has been a long road to travel since 2011 when St James' residents were consulted during the early days of the neighbourhood planning process and the desire to create a much-needed heart to the Community was identified. The potential of Queen's Crescent Garden to help achieve this soon became recognised. The degree of enthusiasm to make this precious open space its own, transforming it from the sadly-neglected eyesore and haven only for anti-social activity that it had become over a number of years, into a beautiful space enjoyed and open for use by everyone in St James, became evident when the Community voted it top priority of a long list of projects designed to make St James an even better place to live and work.
With excellent support from Exeter City Council the Garden was protected with designation as a Local Green Space and in December 2012 Council Executive resolved to support the determination of St James' residents to regenerate the Garden by carrying out compulsory purchase, should it be necessary, in order that the Community could take legal responsibility for the land.
Since then the Council has carried out exhaustive research in an attempt to identify a current owner with whom, initially, to negotiate a purchase. With every avenue leading to a dead-end, it became clear that the only way forward would be a CPO against an unknown owner.
Meanwhile, the Project Group has undertaken each pre-requisite as advised by the Council:
• Exeter St James Community Trust Ltd was set up as a suitable body to become leaseholder following completion of the CPO.
• Legal advice was sought and Keith Biggs of OTB Eveling kindly agreed to negotiate draft Heads of Terms with ECC, at no cost, in preparation for the eventual drawing up and signing of a long term lease with ECC as owner.
• The commitment and competence of the Forum's QCG Project Group was confirmed through bidding successfully for funding in order to develop, with thorough community consultation, a suitable professional Masterplan for the Garden, supported by a Delivery Strategy that demonstrated the Masterplan was realisable.
• Planning consent was obtained for Change of Use from Private Open Space to Public Open Space.
In April 2016 Council Executive once again considered making the Compulsory Purchase Order, and Members spoke very supportively before unanimously resolving to give the go-ahead.
Should anyone with a good claim come forward before the 24 June, and object to the purchase, then a Public Inquiry would become necessary. However, should no objections be received by DCLG, it is conceivable that the lease might be signed by ESJCT Ltd later this year.
WILL WE HAVE AN ADDITIONAL REASON TO CELEBRATE AT OUR 'TEA in the PARK' EVENT ON 25 JUNE? LET'S HOPE SO!
(Click here to see Noticeboard for details)
QCG Project Group is very grateful to ECC for preparing the CPO and for undertaking all the work necessary to reach this significant milestone.
FOOTBALL CLUB DEVELOPMENT
Earlier this month the Forum received a response to its appeal to the Department for Communities and Local Government concerning the planning consent granted by Exeter City Council to Yelverton Properties to build multi-storey purpose-built blocks to provide accommodation for 312 students on the Football Club/Yeo and Davey site and a further 15 students above a retail unit on Old Tiverton Road. To the disappointment of the local community the Secretary of State decided not to call in this application in order to determine, himself, whether it should be refused or given consent, leaving residents bewildered and demoralised and asking the question, why did we bother with the Neighbourhood Plan?
The Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan was developed by local residents with the support and guidance of Exeter City Council to ensure, through the planning process, the protection of the community from the increasing social imbalance caused by an ever-growing student population. Passed by a 92% yes vote in the referendum of 2013 it was given statutory force when adopted by Exeter City Council as part of the Local Development Plan. It is therefore both surprising and perplexing that the key policy of the Neighbourhood Plan – community balance – should have been given little weight when consent for the Football Club development was approved; a decision which, according to the Council’s own figures, will increase the student population in St James to 57%.
It is important to emphasise that contrary to what has been reported elsewhere the Secretary of State’s decision not to call in the application does not amount to approval but, rather, that it should be a matter determined at local level. In light of this, and the Housing and Planning Minister’s assertion that local planning is for local people to decide and that communities views should not be sidelined, the Forum has had to consider carefully what steps, if any, to take in defence of the Neighbourhood Plan. Having taken initial legal and professional advice which was considered at a meeting of the core Steering Group, including Resident Association representatives and also members of the Planning and Design Panel, it was agreed unanimously to instigate a legal review of the Planning Committee decision.
A precursor to judicial review, a Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) letter has been drafted and sent to Exeter City Council which sets out the issues in dispute. A response is anticipated within two weeks. It is the Forum’s earnest hope that matters can be resolved by discussion and negotiation and that, the last resort, litigation can be avoided. The matter now rests with the Council. Should it become necessary to proceed to judicial review it will be necessary to raise money to cover the potentially considerable costs involved. The Steering Group is currently in the process of exploring how this will be achieved.
See a copy of the PAP letter here.
GOOD NEWS THRICE OVER FOR ST JAMES!
Three Awards will see significant improvements THIS SPRING in Queen's Crescent Garden.
First, Exeter St James Forum is delighted to be able to announce that an application by Exeter St James Community Trust Ltd for a grant from Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG's) Pocket Park Programme has been successful! £13000 has been awarded for immediate use.
Second, thanks to our local county councillor, Cllr. Jill Owen, a matchfunding award of £5000 from DCC Locality Budget will be used to boost the DCLG award, ensuring a bigger impact will be achieved, with much greater length of the walls receiving attention.
Third, as a result of the Community Matters Scheme where customers at John Lewis were invited to place a green token each time they shopped in the store for 3 months last year, Robyn Connett was invited to receive a cheque for £375 on behalf of Queen's Crescent Garden Project Group!
This money will be used towards the purchase of a noticeboard that will provide information in the garden related to the project and which should be erected in the next few weeks. Many thanks to John Lewis and their customers!
For the full story and to see how you can help click here.
ECF PRODUCES DRAFT COMMUNITY STRATEGY
Both St James Forum and Trust are represented on Exeter Community Forum (ECF) - see previous articles in the News section here. A city-wide organisation set up with the support of Exeter City and Devon County Councils, its aim is to create a community strategy for Exeter for the next five to ten years which will, among other things, inform how the neighbourhood portion of CIL* funding will be spent.
Following a series of community based consultative meetings across the city, including one held in St James in November, a first draft of the strategy has now been produced. This can be viewed on the ECF website (click here) together with a feedback form. Although the consultation will go on until 14 March 2016 comments are invited now to inform further discussion at the next meeting of ECF on 24 February.
The draft strategy will be considered by Exeter City Council Scrutiny Committee on 1 March. Should you wish, please pass any comments to Cllr. Keith Owen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Cllr. Christine Buswell (email@example.com) ahead of this meeting.
It is expected that final approval will be agreed by ECF and ECC in April.
* Community Infrastructure Levy, a local authority charge on new developments in an area, of which 15% is allocated to neighbourhood spending (estimated at £3.7m in Exeter over 10 years).
Welcome to the Exeter St James Forum website where we bring you news, features, information and announcements about a Neighbourhood Plan to enhance the area in which we live.
The Government has introduced new planning policies which have given more power to local people. The Localism Act was given Royal Assent in November 2011 and communities are being encouraged to prepare neighbourhood plans to influence what happens in their area.
A group of residents’ associations and individuals, representing most parts of St James, joined forces as the Exeter St James Forum with the aim of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for the ward. Following a two year process the Plan received a 'Big Yes Vote' in a referendum on, 2 May 2013. The now fully adopted plan sets out a vision for St James and our priorities for the future. Exeter City Council and Devon County Council will take the plan into account when making planning and development decisions. The plan should also help the community to secure funding for projects to improve the area. Find out more.
The three key priorities are...
If you would like to become involved in the Exeter St James Forum or would like to be kept up-to-date through the mailing list please CLICK here.
Our Email address is – firstname.lastname@example.org
The information on this website is offered in good faith.
Download a PDF of About St James Issue 1
CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO VISIT WEBSITES
To adverise your business here and support the high profile Queen's Crescent Garden Project please get in touch CLICK. Just £50 a year! Includes a link to your website and insertion in "About St James" the joint Trust/Forum newsletter delivered twice a year to every household in St James
WELL, WELL, WELL..Find out more about the ancient holy well discovered in Well Street
EXETER St JAMES NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
Following on from a Big Yes vote for Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan on 2nd May 2013, the Plan was officially adopted by Exeter City Council on 16 July 2013. Find out more in Newsletter 18
The Plan now forms part of Exeter’s statutory development plans and the policies it contains will be used to help determine planning applications.
Congratulations from Nick Boles MP & Right Hon Don Foster MP CLICK
See the Neighbourhood Plan Main Document CLICK