Secretary of State won’t ‘call in’ decision to redevelop Harlequins shopping centre in Exeter into homes and hotel

Plans to redevelop Harlequins Shopping Centre in Exeter can go ahead after the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government decided against ‘calling in’ the bid.  

The controversial proposals featuring homes, a hotel, bar and restaurant were approved by city councillors in October despite attracting 375 objections.

Curlew’s scheme, thought to be the first of its kind in the South West, would see the site turned into two blocks – the first featuring 251 ‘co-living’ apartments.

A 116-room hotel with bar and restaurant will make up the second.

The project will also see a ‘pocket park’ created and the pedestrian bridge over Paul Street replaced with a modern, lightweight new structure.

Requests were made in December for Secretary of State Robert Jenrick to ‘call in’ the plans and make a final decision on them.

The scheme’s impact on the historic environment was cited as the reason for the application.

But Mr Jenrick said this week he is satisfied that in this case it was appropriate that the decision was made at local level by Exeter City Council.  

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

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

Councillor Emma Morse, lead for planning on the authority, said: “We always believe that local decisions should be made by those who understand the local communities the most – local authorities via the democratic planning process.

“I’m glad that the Government has deferred to the council and accepted our original decision for this application to go ahead.”

In deciding not to call the application in, the Government said: “The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on 26 October 2012.

“The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively.

“The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.”

Heritage group asks for Secretary of State to ‘call in’ bid to redevelop Exeter Harlequins shopping centre into homes and hotel

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