Residents fight Exeter flats plan as developer appeals refusal

Rochelles Curtains and Blinds and Crankhouse Coffee on the corner of West Street and Fore Street in Exeter -Credit:Mary Stenson/DevonLive
Rochelles Curtains and Blinds and Crankhouse Coffee on the corner of West Street and Fore Street in Exeter -Credit:Mary Stenson/DevonLive

Locals are continuing to rally against plans to build 13 flats above a shop and café in Exeter city centre. The proposals were refused by Exeter City Council's planning committee but the developer is appealing this decision.

A planning application was submitted in May 2023 by Cela Enterprises Ltd. to make changes to an already approved application from 2012 for 13 flats above the retail units at the top of West Street. Architects Burley Partnership said that approval hadn't "been able to be continued until now due to long leases granted on the retail premises".

The more recent proposals included building three floors of flats above Crankhouse Coffee and one floor above Rochelle's Curtains and Blinds. It said the ground floor and lower ground floor would be maintained as retail spaces.

There was huge backlash from locals and businesses, including 142 objections and a campaign was launched called 'Save the West Quarter'. Objectors said the height of the development was "not in character" with the surrounding area which is home to a number of historic buildings, including the House That Moved, Stepcote Hill and St Mary Steps Church.

⚠️ Want the latest Devon breaking news and top stories first? Click here to join our WhatsApp group . We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice ⚠️

Other concerns included a loss of privacy for nearby flats, general disruption to the area during building work and the potential impact on Crankhouse Coffee and Rochelle's Curtains and Blinds, claiming that "the proposed replacement commercial spaces are tiny".

Exeter City Council eventually refused the plans on the basis that the height and scale of the development created "an unacceptable impact on local character". The developer is now appealing the decision via The Planning Inspectorate.

In a 'Grounds for Appeal' document prepared by Burley Partnership, it says that the developer believes the Planning Committee refused the application "to appease the weight of objector's orchestrated opinion and satisfy their own predisposition against a scheme their authority previously approved". The application had been recommended for approval by Exeter City Council's Planning Officer.

The proposed 13 flats development on West Street, Exeter -Credit:Burley Partnership
The proposed 13 flats development on West Street, Exeter -Credit:Burley Partnership

One local has hit back at the developer's second attempt to have the scheme approved. In a note displayed around Fore Street and West Street, they list various reasons why they are against the proposals, including "over-development" of the area, the impact on drainage and water supply, increased pollution and rubbish, as well as road safety concerns. They say they have lived in the area for 15 years and witnessed two deaths at the junction between Fore Street and West Street.

The anonymous resident says: "I don't know if you know but there is a rich landlord out there trying to build 13 more flats on 130 Fore Street (above Crankhouse Coffee and Langans shop). They want to extend up. It's already an ugly building and making it bigger is not going to help the area."

"And who wants more building/roadworks in the area? Sometimes people forget we actually live in our flats. If you agree with any of the above points please hurry and raise any concerns at the Appeals Casework Portal. You can search for the case using the last digits, so 3339991 and then fill in quite a simple form. Don't let the Planning Inspectorate let the appeal for this application go through."

The planning application can be found here and the appeal can be found here.