Developers emphasise sustainability of proposed Exeter retail park

Developers are calling on councillors to give plans for a new £40m retail park on the outskirts of Exeter the go-ahead at the fourth time of asking – and have emphasised the sustainability benefits of it.

The CPG scheme for the Moor Exchange includes Next, M&S Simply Food, Boots, a drive-through McDonalds, a drive-through Costa as tenants, but has seen three bids for it to be build rejected.

The other eight units would be filled with a yet-to-be-named discount food retailer, a post office, a newsagent, a bank, a gym, a restaurant, a hot food takeaway unit and a shop.

But officers are recommending that Exeter City Council’s planning committee approve the scheme when they meet tonight.

Calling for the plan for the retail/leisure hub to be given the go ahead, Martin Ridgway, Group Managing Director of developers CPG, said that the sustainability benefits of the plans would be huge and that the Moor Exchange, located off Honiton Road, is deliverable and the favoured location to address the shopping requirements for East Exeter.

Up to 450 jobs for local people could be created and if the planning application is approved by Exeter City Council, building works could commence towards the end of 2020.

He said: “The Moor Exchange could meet the needs of the existing and growing number of residents along with the wider business community allowing many thousands of people to walk to the site each day to do their daily shopping. Currently, local facilities are very limited.

“Without local provision, employees and residents across East Exeter are forced into their cars at lunchtime or after work to seek ad hoc shopping provision further afield.

“We have worked closely with City Council officers to strengthen the sustainable credentials of the scheme. There are a host of transport related benefits and all-in-all we are setting ourselves strong targets on being a local and very sustainable hub”.

Four new pedestrian/cycle links into the site, parking numbers have been reduced from previous applications, the number of EV Charging points increased to 45 and a new link for a bus “only” connection into the adjoining residential development are also part of the plans, Mr Ridgway said.

He added that this planning application for Moor Exchange has been honed to address member’s concerns as the floor area has been reduced and CPG is committed to delivering a wider range of uses for the local community including chemist, food store, gym, bank, newsagent, coffee shops, restaurants and a homeware store.

Mixed use retail hub

Recommending approval, the report of officers says: “The proposal will provide a mixed-use hub for the area where there is clearly a gap in provision when comparing the spatial distribution of other centres in the city. This will help fulfil the vision of the masterplan and takes into account the guidance on good design in the recently published National Design Guide.

“If the proposal is turned down, there is a risk that no mixed use hub will be provided for the new community or business community in the area.”

Twice before Exeter City Council planners rejected the scheme, while last summer, councillors voted against approving the plans but fail to actually vote on reasons for refusal, leaving CPG deciding that the application was undetermined.

That application has since been resubmitted and officers are once again recommending that councillors give the scheme the thumbs up when the committee meets on Monday, January 6.

When the Moor Exchange scheme was discussed by planners in July, officers told the committee it would have “a relatively minor impact on the city centre, and wouldn’t meet a test to refuse an application.”

They added that although it wasn’t “a local centre” as it has a greater scale, it can perform “a local centre function.”

Officers had recommended it be approved then, but councillors voted by seven votes to four against a recommendation of officers to approve the plans.

But they then failed to actually vote on reasons for refusal, leaving CPG deciding that the application was undetermined.

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