Developer wins an appeal to build ‘unwanted’ student flats in Exeter, overturning the city council’s refusal

More student flats are to be built in Exeter after a developer won an appeal against the city council who turned down the application after listening to residents’ calls for homes for all.

A government inspector has given the go-ahead for a new development of student flats in the heart of Exeter which city Councillors said the community did not want or need, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

Developers trying to build four three-storey units on the site of the former Maximum Motors workshop in Howell Road have won their appeal against the city council’s decision last September to say no.

There will be bedrooms for 26 students in the purpose-built blocks.

Councillors said when they made their decision that the city did not want more purpose-built student accommodation, and desperately needed homes for local families instead.

They said the increase in student housing to cope with the growth and popularity of Exeter University had led to an ‘imbalance of population’ and went against local planning policies.

But the inspector decided that it would not create an over-concentration of student flats which would change the character of the neighbourhood.

There are already more than 300 beds in four other purpose-built blocks within 250 metres of the Howell Road site.

At the time it was first considered, one objector pleaded with Councillors: “If you have any regard at all for residents living in the centre of Exeter, you will turn down this application.”

Another wrote: “I cannot object strongly enough to this suggestion and this constant focus on purpose-built student accommodation rather than social and general needs.”

The inspector decided the new blocks could be properly integrated into the urban area.

An application by the developer for costs against the city council was refused.

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