Exeter green space, golf range and ski slope ‘will be protected’ from developers, vows city council leader

The leader of Exeter City Council has reiterated that a valued green space, golf range and ski slope will be protected from developers. 

Councillor Phil Bialyk repeated the vow this week after the authority performed a U-turn over selling the site at Clifton Hill sports centre in the summer.

His motion to investigate the implications of marketing a smaller part of the plot was unanimously backed by his colleagues.

This means a report will come back before councillors in January.

The meeting heard the findings were due to come before the authority last week, but could not be presented due to ‘purdah’ and the general election.

Earlier this year, Exeter City Council controversially voted include all of the land at Clifton Hill as part of a site to be marketed for a mixed residential development.

However, the decision was reversed in July as a result of the progression of Liveable Exeter Garden City – the city’s housing vision for creating around 11,500 new homes over the next 20 years.

Current proposals would see the front part of Clifton Hill – on the sports centre site – built out, but the ski slope, the golf driving range, and the green space retained.

Cllr Bialyk said in July: “I have made this statement that we won’t be selling the green space. I won’t renege on it and it would be political suicide if I did.”

And at a meeting on Tuesday he added: “It is quite clear that the golf range, the ski slope, and the green space at the back we intend to protect. We have no plans to build on these parts of the site and I want to find a way of protecting the space.”

Cllr Bialyk said that the report officers will bring forward would involve ‘three issues’ to be resolved and that not selling the entire site would mean ‘tough decisions’ would have to be made.

He added: “I can tell you now, despite all of that, I will stick with the decision and I have made it and I will need you to support me with it and the commitment to the community.”

His motion said: “This council supports the leader of the council in his stated intention not to sell the whole of the Clifton Hill site owned by Exeter City Council for residential development by removing from the previously agreed Clifton Hill sale site, the green space area, the golf driving range and the ski slope.

“To facilitate this change, this council requires officers to prepare a report setting out the implication of selling such a reduced site for the consideration by the executive to be held on January 14, 2020, and thereafter by Special Council to be held on January 21, 2020.”

Exeter City Council  unanimously voted in favour of the motion on Tuesday night.

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