Anger over shock plans to sell off Exeter beauty spot

-Credit: (Image: David Barker-Hahlo)
-Credit: (Image: David Barker-Hahlo)

Locals in Exeter say they are "disappointed" by plans to sell off a beauty spot. There are concerns that it could be sold to a developer despite restrictions on the land.

Multiple plots of land between Stoke Valley Road and Sheppard Road in the north of the city are being listed for auction by Clive Emson Land and Property Auctioneers. The advertisement states that some of the land "may have potential".

It says: "Several parcels of land and verges in or on the lower part of Linnett Close and Plassey Close, Exeter. It is considered some areas may have potential, subject to all necessary consents being obtainable."

Local resident David Barker-Hahlo says this advertisement is "misleading" and claims that it suggests that the land could be redeveloped. There are six main covenants on the land from 1988 which say it should remain a public open space and that trees or shrubs should not be cut down.

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One covenant says: "Not at any time to use the property otherwise than as a public open space." Another says: "Within the perpetuity period not without the Transferor's prior written consent to erect or place or suffer to be erected or placed on any part of the property any building or erection".

The land is owned by Stoke Hill Community Association (SHCA), who are understood to have bought the site in 2016. The reason for the sale is unclear but David says it has come as a shock to residents and councillors.

David Barker-Hahlo is concerned about what could happen to land near Stoke Valley Road if it is sold -Credit:David Barker-Hahlo
David Barker-Hahlo is concerned about what could happen to land near Stoke Valley Road if it is sold -Credit:David Barker-Hahlo

He said: "They have decided to put it up for auction without telling anyone on the estate, our councillor Martyn Snow was made aware of it by me when I happened to see a Clive Emson 'for sale by auction' sign at the top of Plassey Close.

"The auction site is misleading too because it states that it is considered areas have potential for development, with the right consents. It is public open space with a footpath running through it and it is a valuable nature corridor."

Councillor Martyn Snow, who represents the Pennsylvania ward on Exeter City Council, says the covenants will make building on the land "extremely difficult". But he says he is disappointed that residents and councillors weren't made aware of SHCA's plans to sell the site.

He said: "One matter that people need to realise is that the land is heavily covenanted and extremely difficult for anyone to get any permission to build on it. A number of the larger trees have got preservation orders on them so they can't be felled.

"We're very unhappy as councillors as to what is actually going on there. SHCA had a grant from Exeter City Council back in 2016 to look after it but they haven't consulted with the local residents or councillors before putting it up for auction.

"It came as a shock to everyone and it wasn't until people noticed a billboard going up saying the land is for auction that people had any idea. It's just disappointing." Clive Emson Land and Property Auctioneers and SHCA have been contacted for comment.