NEWS – Due to the continuing success of the St Sidwell’s Centre Repair Café another event is planned on Aril 22 READ MORE
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HELP SAVE THE LOST TREASURES OF ST SIDWELL'S
CLOCK TOWER HOTEL – application for change of use to 18 bed HMO withdrawn!
Many thanks to all those who submitted an objection to this planning application which sought to convert the Hotel in New North Road into accommodation for 18 students. Confronted by the degree of individual opposition as well as a strong objection submitted on behalf of the Forum, and supported by our local city councillors, the applicant withdrew before the application was determined.
This is another success for our Neighbourhood Plan, with its aim of restoring community balance for the well-being of all, but despite its statutory status as part of Exeter's Development Plan it is clear that we all need to be ready to speak up to ensure it is given due weight.
As a result of changes to neighbourhood planning regulations that came into force last October, the Forum has been given greater recognition with Exeter City Council now required to consult with the Forum when planning applications of significance to St James are submitted.
Advised by our planning experts, the Steering Group gives careful consideration to these proposals and responds accordingly. Where the arguments for and against seem finely-balanced, the local planning officers take particular note of the degree of local feeling, and if there are many individual letters, either of objection or support, the determination may finally be swayed by these. In such cases we shall alert you to the specific application, just as we did the change of use for the Clock Tower Hotel, knowing that your submissions would be very significant.
THE RUSTY BIKE – Application for Change of Use to a family home
One of the applications that the Forum is currently being consulted over is the Change of Use of The Rusty Bike pub in Howell Road to a family home for the use of the current owner. All the details are available here. Before submitting comments on behalf of the Forum, the Steering Group, would be pleased to hear the views of our members. We are aware that half a dozen people, mostly from outside St James, have submitted objections, claiming the pub as a community asset, but what views are held by our members? Maybe you are more concerned that a family home should be welcomed as a move in the direction of increasing permanent residents?
We understand that the pub was on the market for some time prior to the owner deciding to apply to close the pub and convert the building into a home for his family, so the viability as a pub may be questionable. Those who have objected have not suggested how its future might be secured.
At a recent Steering Group meeting consideration was given to nomination of each of a small number of local properties as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), including the Rusty Bike. In order for such a nomination to be successful, clear evidence must be provided that the existing use of a particular building or piece of land is valued by the local community. Once nominated, should the ACV be put up for sale, suitable local community groups would have 6 months in which to put together a sound business plan to apply to purchase. There is no requirement that the owner would have to sell to the community, it is purely a measure that buys time for the community group. Exeter St James Community Trust would be considered an appropriate type of community body to submit an offer to purchase an ACV of proven benefit to the St James' community, but should the Forum refer such a proposition to the Trust, the Board of Directors would of course need to give very careful thought before developing a serious plan.
The Steering Group felt that the situation of The Rusty Bike did not lend itself as an ACV, unlike St Anne's Well in Well Street, that was successfully nominated last year, being adjacent to St James' Community Hub as identified by the Neighbourhood Plan. Furthermore it was not thought that its continuing function would be of such significance to St James' residents that the Trust, with its existing resources both human and financial, should be asked to consider purchasing and managing the pub. However, should the view of a significant number of our members be that the loss of the pub should be resisted, our response regarding the planning applications should reflect this. Bearing in mind the view of the Steering Group, it would be important for those in favour to suggest how the viability of the pub might be secured.
The deadline for representations is 28 March, so please send any comments by Monday, 27 March.
BLOOMING ST JAMES
The Royal Horticultural Society, through Britian in Bloom and It’s Your Neighbourhood, gives awards to community groups for their efforts in developing and nurturing the green spaces in our towns and villages.
In St James the entries have been increasing since 2014 and last year there were 8 awards in the area, each with the following achievements:
Bury Meadow Park – Advancing;
St Sidwell’s Community Centre Garden – Outstanding;
St James’ Park Station – Improving;
Powderham Crescent Garden – Thriving;
Queen’s Crescent Garden Project – Thriving;
St James’ Vegetable Gardens – Thriving;
Devonshire Place Orchard Regeneration Project – Outstanding;
King Stephen’s Close – Thriving.
The "outstanding" Devonshire Place Orchard
The St James Village entry which encompasses the all of the sites as well as the roads, gardens and spaces in between them was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal.
We have some great community initiatives in St James that continue to work and maintain many of our very special green spaces. Queen’s Crescent Garden is a major long term project. However we also have St Sidwell’s School with a thriving green space and garden and the Mosque with its own developing garden which could also be part of the It’s Your Neighbourhood awards. There are a large number of attractive front gardens and in the summer, tucked away in some of the small terraces, you can find planters and baskets full of flowers attracting bees and butterflies. But there is still a need for more. It is all about Environmental Responsibility, Community Involvement and Gardening Achievement.
The "outstanding" St Sidwell's Community Centre Garden
It would be good for more initiatives to get off the ground (sorry about the pun). There are possibilities of support and grants from different sources that can be applied for. If you have an idea for a street or row of houses, or even a disused space, check out the RHS Southwest in Bloom It’s Your Neighbourhood website (click here) or contact the Forum for more information.
MEETING WITH GAVIN BARWELL MP
MINISTER OF STATE FOR HOUSING AND PLANNING AT DCLG
Steering Group Representatives with Ben Bradshaw MP outside the DCLG
Steering Group is grateful to the support received from our local MP, Ben Bradshaw, in securing a meeting for Forum representatives with the Minister, just before Christmas, in the wake of the aborted legal challenge and the failure of our Neighbourhood Plan (NP) to protect the community from planning consent for 320 bed purpose built student accommodation on Exeter City Football Club / Yeo and Davey combined site, despite acknowledgement by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) of the development's non-compliance with St James Neighbourhood Plan, and of a worsening existing community imbalance as a consequence.
A joint letter of support for St James Neighbourhood Plan, signed by each of our city councillors, and expressing concern that the LPA was not always giving the Plan appropriate weight when determining planning applications, was handed to the Minister. The unusual display of consensus between councillors representing the three main political parties was not lost on the Minister!
The Minister confirmed his own, and the government's, continuing commitment to neighbourhood planning and acknowledged that tightening measures were required to ensure local planning authorities afforded Plans the consideration intended by Localism Act. He explained that there were as yet relatively few urban neighbourhood plans, a fact he wished to address. He was unwilling to analyse the specific case of the Football Club development application, but enumerated various options that we might like to consider to help deliver the vision of a balanced community, made possible either by changes within the Neighbourhood Planning Bill currently passing through Parliament, or by announcements he had recently made in the House. These included periodically amending neighbourhood plans to ensure they remained up to date. This was being made easier to do, though a referendum would still be required before the amended version could be adopted. He was keen that we considered using Neighbourhood Development Orders and / or Community Right to Build Orders, and drew our attention to funding that was now being made available to community land trusts (which includes Exeter St James Community Trust) for building new homes, with a generous proportion allocated to the South West.
Of particular interest to St James was his response when asked whether LPAs have power to stop over-concentration of purpose built student accommodation in any one area such as St James, by insisting prospective developers look to build elsewhere in the Authority's area to ensure more even dispersal. Gavin Barwell stated that he would need to check with his advisers, but he did believe that this was already the case, and he promised to give us a definitive answer in due course.
The Minister showed enthusiasm when invited to make a visit to Exeter, and said that following the publishing of the long-awaited, but now imminent, Housing White Paper, he intends to tour the country and would be pleased to confirm Exeter as a destination. This will provide an opportunity for more people, including our local councillors, to meet with him and to show him the situation on the ground, so we look forward to finalising a date for his visit!
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...
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The information on this website is offered in good faith.
About St James Issue 1
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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