1,250 new Exeter student flats approved on campus

“Best way to reverse the trend of family homes being occupied by students.” 

Was pressure to find student accommodation one of the driving forces behind the “Greater Exeter Strategic Plan” (GESP) and Exeter’s expansion?

Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk

They’ll replace existing campus accommodation.

Plans for an extra 1,250 student flats on the University of Exeter campus have been given the go ahead.

The development of the Clydesdale, Nash and Birks Grange Village halls of residence off Stocker Road, has been overwhelmingly supported by Exeter City Council’s planning committee.

Councillors agreed with planning officers recommendation of approval, saying that purpose-built accommodation on the university campus was the best way to reverse the trend of family homes being occupied by students.

Backing the plans, Cllr Rachel Sutton said that it was for the redevelopment of a part of the campus which already accommodates students. She added: “Yes it is at a greater density, but I am quite certain that there are residents in other parts of the city who will welcome this as it means housing currently occupied by students comes back into occupation by families.”

Cllr Ruth Williams added: “The only way to reverse the trend is to build more purpose built student accommodation so we have to recognise if we want to halt the loss of family homes in Exeter, this is what we have to do in providing purpose built student accommodation.”

But Cllr Michael Mitchell said that he was concerned about the building density and the scale of the current proposals and the impact on residents. He added: “This is a massive increase in floorspace and student numbers in the area and up to 1,200 extra bed spaces, on top of what  already exists on site. I don’t have confidence that for local residents this wouldn’t be overpowering and overshadowing and it needs to be scaled back to get my support.”

The outline proposals were approved by 10 votes to one, although councillors called for further discussions around the impact of light pollution.

The planning officers said: “Given the recent number of student accommodation schemes submitted in off-campus locations, the proposal for such a significant number of bed spaces within a sustainable location on campus is to be welcomed. It is accepted that the quantum of development proposed is substantial, however, it is considered that the parameter plans effectively limit the level of development to an acceptable scale.

“The proposed building heights to accommodate this would have a considerable impact on the character and appearance of the area, however, it is an accepted planning practice that where development is considered acceptable in principle, most efficient use of the land should be sought.

“In addition, the Passivhaus approach to the scheme is to be welcomed and is accepted will in some instances dictate the orientation, form and design of the resultant buildings.”

The application will see:

  • The demolition of the existing two and three storey buildings at Clydesdale and Nash Halls and replaced with new student accommodation ranging in height from three to eight storeys. These buildings will include ancillary service such as shops, cafes at the ground floor level and arranged in courtyard settings with associated hard and soft landscaping.
  • The demolition of the existing service centre and replace with student accommodation buildings varying in height from three to four storeys, with a replacement estates service centres to be located to north east part of the University campus
  • The demolition of the existing Birks Grange refectory building and construction of a new six storey student accommodation building, with ancillary social and amenity space on the ground floor.
  • Refurbishment of existing accommodation block A-E of the Birks Grange to achieve equivalent Passivhaus standards to include external alterations to the walls, windows and roof to include solar panels. The demolition of the refectory removes catered halls from this part of the campus, resulting in the need for new kitchens within each flats and which as a consequence reduces the overall number of units.

They are even Changing the Guard in leafy Surrey!

Spelthorne Conservatives ousted from leader and mayor roles

Julie Armstrong http://www.getsurrey.co.uk

When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.

The Conservatives have been ousted from four major roles on Spelthorne Borough Council as a new style of administration was voted in.

John Boughtflower, who has been leader since last June, had the support of all his Conservative colleagues in Thursday’s annual meeting, but 18 Tories are outnumbered by 21 councillors in opposition and Cllr Boughtflower lost the vote to the Liberal Democrats’ Lawrence Nichols.

Despite the opposition being made up of seven different groups, they all also stuck together to choose Joanna Sexton, leader of Independent Spelthorne Group, as deputy leader over Conservative Jim McIlroy.

Independent councillor Ian Beardsmore said: “Just as a historical note, this is the first time in the history of Spelthorne the Conservatives have lost five major votes in a row. I am delighted.”

Cllr Boughtflower fought off a motion of no confidence less than three months ago when the Liberal Democrats and Labour decided to abstain.

The role of council leader has since changed, as Spelthorne council introduces the more democratic committee system, a bottom-up approach.

Decisions will now be made by all members in full council, not just a select few of the ruling party in a cabinet chosen by one person. Expect them to take longer, but everyone who won their ward’s vote will have a say.

Cllr Tom Fidler, who seconded Cllr Nichols for leader, said: “Had we operated under the strong leader model, this would never have been appropriate for Lawrence, because that is not the person he is.

“For him it isn’t about the power, it’s not about the title, it’s about the corporate responsibility.”

Cllr Nichols was accountable for more than £500 million of trade credit risk in his former role as director for a Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary.

In recognition of the leader’s role no longer including executive responsibilities, the Independent Remuneration Panel has recommended reducing his allowance from £14,616 to £11,000, in addition to the £6,403 allowance received by all councillors.

Ian Harvey elected as 2021-22 mayor

Continuing the trend of removing Conservatives, Ian Harvey outraged some councillors by breaking with tradition to challenge the deputy mayor for the role of mayor – and won.

Proposer Olivia Rybinski, also from the United Spelthorne Group, said Cllr Harvey had “protected Spelthorne council from financial disaster” by making “investments that now generate over half the net council income”.

Normally, after a year of supporting and understudying the mayor, Tony Harman would have progressed to the position.

Cllr Tony Mitchell, who proposed Conservative Cllr Harman for mayor, said: “I have known only once, in 2002, that there was another nomination against the councillor who was to be the mayor.”

He said Cllr Harman had been a “mediating force” as deputy to Cllr Harvey’s recent council leadership and “without his support, Cllr Harvey might not have been able to maintain his role as leader”.

On accepting the robes, Cllr Harvey thanked Cllr Harman for his support to outgoing mayor Colin Barnard.

As mayor, Cllr Harvey will chair all full council meetings for the coming year. He said: “It is unfortunate that we are in such a fractious and divided situation. It is my desire that we can operate in an atmosphere of constructive cooperation and civility and preferably with cordiality. I will do my best to further this.”

He promised that where it was necessary to use the mayor’s casting vote in a tie position, it would not be decided along political lines.

He has not yet chosen his charity of the year but said he wanted to help young people with special educational needs.

Cllr Sue Doran, leader of the Labour group, was elected as deputy mayor.