Battle to build 350 homes on controversial Exeter site

The current site of St Bridget Nursery in Old Rydon Lane
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

Permission is being sought once again by determined developers to build up to 350 homes on the site of St Bridget Nursery in Old Rydon Lane, Exeter, after outline plans were approved by Exeter City Council (ECC) and then later quashed by a High Court judge. An outline planning application to turn the land into housing was submitted by Waddeton Park Ltd in 2022, which also sought approval for its highway access scheme.

In July 2023, planners approved the application for the demolition of existing buildings and structures, and the phased development of up to 350 homes, associated infrastructure and open space at St Bridget Nursery. The proposed access scheme included restrictions on the vehicular use of Old Rydon Lane with a partial closure and introduction of a one-way street heading east, and for traffic to and from the proposed development to travel along Old Rydon Lane.

A judicial review was then sought by Christine Pratt and the Sandy Park Partnership. Mrs Pratt jointly owns and resides at Newcourt Lodge in Old Rydon Lane and the proposals would prevent her from turning left out of her drive. Sandy Park Partnership operates a property management and farming business from Sandy Park Farm in Old Rydon Lane.

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In February, a High Court judge overturned the council's decision stating a planning officer gave 'seriously misleading advice' to its planning committee. It was noted there had been a failure to consider how existing residents of Old Rydon Lane would be impacted in terms of access.

The council planning officer was also criticised for failing to discharge a duty to investigate whether the land to the north-east of the site intended for the scheme was for sale and, if so, on what terms. Devon County Council (DCC) was also condemned for a failure to carry out its statutory local highway authority role.

Waddeton Park has since instructed engineering and environmental consultants Rappor to provide an additional assessment to address the points raised by the judge in the judicial review case. It primarily relates to the impact of the access scheme for the development on existing residents of Old Rydon Lane and a separate Transport Assessment Addendum (TAA) report.

Plans for up to 350 homes at St Bridget Nursery, off Old Rydon Lane, Exeter
Plans for up to 350 homes at St Bridget Nursery, off Old Rydon Lane, Exeter -Credit:Clifton Emery Design

The planning application is now back before ECC to be redetermined on a yet to be confirmed date and the proposed development is said to be the same.

The updated transport analysis report states: "Whilst this technical note (TN) provides additional information and clarification around certain aspects of the proposals, the access strategy and implications of the development are unchanged and therefore the proposals should remain acceptable to DCC and ECC in highways and transport terms.".

The TAA report details how the main transport concerns raised during the judicial review were:

  • The Increased length and circuitous routes for typical journeys

  • The degree of inconvenience for residents arising from the proposals

  • A consideration of what steps might be taken to mitigate adverse impacts of the proposals

  • An appraisal of access arrangements for public/emergency services

The current St Bridget Nursery site
The current St Bridget Nursery site -Credit:Clifton Emery Design

The report concludes: "Following the High Court Judgement, additional assessments regarding the potential impact on amenity of the proposed access scheme on local residents have been undertaken and the results and conclusions presented in this TAA. No material impacts have been identified.

"In addition, the conclusions of the original TA remain valid. Subject to securing the identified measures by way of appropriate legal agreement, it is concluded that there are no reasons to refuse the planning application on highways and transport grounds."

To view the planning application, please click here.