Pete’s pool in Exeter, Paul’s folly in Honiton?

Exeter City Council Leader Pete Edwards is known for having a dream of what has been dubbed “Pete’s Pool” on the site of the current Exeter Bus Station, despite warnings that Brexit could send it pear-shaped. And now, indeed, the pear has been shaped as both the Princesshay extension AND the pool plans have, at least for now, bitten the dust, with Brexit price rises cited as part of the problem.

Is there a lesson here for “Paul’s Folly” – the new EDDC HQ which could cost us anything from £3 million – £10 million (depending on whether EDDC can sell its current HQ to luxury-retirement home developer PegasusLife?

Exeter’s hoped-for city centre development has been hit by a “double whammy” after a deal to build the new leisure centre and bus station collapsed, the city council leader has revealed.

It emerged on Monday morning that the Crown Estate had cancelled its plans to extend Princesshay shopping centre, citing “market conditions”.

This consigned to the rubbish bin an ambitious plan for a huge public space and amphitheatre across Paris Street into the old bus station and up to the back of Sidwell Street.

Following this, Exeter City Council revealed that a contract with the firm lined up to build the state-of-the-art swimming pool and bus station, believed to be Sir Robert McAlpine, had not been signed.

The authority has now walked away from the deal and plans to re-tender for both projects, adding a year to the completion date, now set at 2020.

Asked if the two were connected, council leader Pete Edwards said the building firm may have been banking on securing the contract to construct the Princesshay extension. …

… Economic uncertainty around Brexit has been blamed for rising prices and the falling value of the pound may have made the leisure centre even more expensive.

Cllr Edwards believes the exchange rate is making material from mainland Europe more expensive but has vowed to complete the project, dubbed by critics “Pete’s Pool”, “before he dies”.

“It is a double whammy and a disaster for the city,” he added. …”

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