Exeter: Plans submitted to redevelop Harlequins shopping centre into homes and hotel

Revised plans to redevelop the Harlequins shopping centre in Exeter into a hotel and homes have been submitted. 

Applicant Curlew has formally lodged the proposals for a ‘co-living’ scheme – thought to be the first of its kind in the South West – with the city council.

The developer has amended its vision for the Paul Street site after its original blueprints, revealed in November last year, attracted some 255 objections.

Changes would see the overall height of two proposed blocks reduced by removing a floor from each of the tallest elements.

A block nearest to the Iron Bridge will no longer feature co-living and will be exclusively for hotel use.

The existing Harlequins shopping centre in Exeter. Image: Daniel Clark

The existing Harlequins shopping centre in Exeter. Image: Daniel Clark

Amended plans that show the retention of the pedestrian bridge at the Harlequins centre in Exeter. Image: Curlew

Amended plans that show the retention of the pedestrian bridge at the Harlequins centre in Exeter. Image: Curlew

The number of co–living beds has been reduced from 298 to 259 and hotel accommodation has increased from 114 to 129 rooms.

A pedestrian footbridge that links Harlequins centre to the Guildhall shopping centre will also be replaced with a ‘modern, lightweight’ structure and lift and stairs access from Paul Street.

The hotel would also feature a bar and restaurant.

Plans state construction costs of the new buildings would be just under £35million and work would take 18-24 months to complete.

The application adds: “This investment would help to support the local economy in the coming years and immediately support the equivalent of 23 full-time construction jobs.

“Once operational, the co-living accommodation will directly employ seven individuals including managers, maintenance and security personnel, whilst it is calculated that the hotel will generate 32 full-time equivalent jobs.

“In total, the development therefore is calculated to support 124 jobs and the assessments note that, based on the best practice approach, this might expect to generate 56 new jobs as a result.

“In terms of spending into the local economy, these additional jobs might be expected to add an additional £2.4million per annum into the Exeter economy.

“Once operational, the new accommodation will have the potential to generate £8.8m per annum directly into the local economy, with an additional £2.4m per annum as a result of this spending and the wider jobs create.

“The amended plans address objections made to the original plans by residents, statutory consultees and officers of the council.”

The scheme also features a ‘pocket park’, ‘significant improvements to the urban realm’ of Paul Street, and 200 bicycle parking spaces.

Revision to the plans for the redevelopment of the Harlequins centre in Exeter. Image: Curlew

Revision to the plans for the redevelopment of the Harlequins centre in Exeter. Image: Curlew

Revision to the plans for the redevelopment of the Harlequins centre in Exeter. Image: Curlew

Greg Fox, senior development manager at Curlew, said: ‘’We are confident that Exeter will recover quickly once we are past the current crisis, and schemes like ours will part of the catalyst for getting the economy back on track by providing jobs and new housing for key workers.

“We want to start work as soon as we can secure a positive planning consent.

‘’This would be our first Passivhaus development and we hope it will act as a trailblazer for other developments in our national portfolio.’’

Exeter City Council’s planning committee will determine the fate of the application

Changes from the original Harlequins scheme:

  • The overall height of the buildings will be reduced by the removal of the top floors of each building;
  • Block two has become purely a hotel, with a total of 129 bedrooms;
  • Block one will consist of 259 co-living beds;
  • For block one, additional vertical emphasis of the design has been proposed within the stair columns. The top floor, however, has been treated with a contemporary approach;
  • The façade of block two has been substantially remodelled, not only adopting the top floor approach as with block one, but also breaking up the elevations with a mix of materials to provide a vertical emphasis and produce a scheme more reminiscent of a townhouse terrace;
  • The façade of block two facing Northernhay will be the same as that of Paul Street. However, in addition a Green Wall has been created, replacing the previous blank façade. This will be a simple wire anchored solution which will, over time, cover the whole wall;
  • It was originally intended that the pedestrian bridge be removed that links Harlequins to the Guildhall. But the revised proposals include a replacement footbridge in the same location as the existing, with lift and stair access from Paul Street. The pedestrian bridge is an important and popular route, which supports trade within the Guildhall.

New plans to turn Exeter shopping centre into ‘co-living’ homes and a hotel

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