Exeter City Council approved the building of new student accommodation on Streatham Campus, which should provide housing for 1,200 students, on 24th April.
The East Park development is to be built on an arable field on the Eastern side of campus, accessible from Pennsylvania Road and Rennes Drive, and it has even be said it’ll have a café onsite.
The University made several amendments to its plans after its original submission in October and comments from the February Planning Committee, including reducing the site by 18%. It now leaves 73% of the field as green space, and will feature amenities such as a shop, café, common rooms and so on. They have been reduced from a proposed twelve-storey building to a maximum of eight storeys.
The council received 701 letters objecting to the new development, some of which came before the revision in February. The issues that were raised in the most letters were about the design and scale of the development, potential problems with parking, and the loss of green space and amenities. In particular, residents objected that the development might introduce an ‘urban character’ to the area. The committee reminded the public that ‘a loss of the view’ was not a valid reason to refuse the application.
Others linked the new development with an increase in student numbers. The University has stated that the development would allow for an increase in postgraduate students and medical school students, however even without the increase of students the accommodation can be said to be necessary due to many 1st year students living up to 40 minutes walk away from Streatham Campus.
The area had previously been allocated for academic buildings in the 2010 masterplan. Additionally, the reduction in square meters since October is of 13%, and not 40% as requested by residents. Some residents attending the meeting were visibly opposed to the new development, with some shaking their heads and sarcastically calling it ‘beautiful’. Councillor Percy Prowse argued against the development, stating that “I won’t be voting for this. Not because it’s the elections, but because so many of the objections are valid”.
Mike Shore-Nye, Registrar and Secretary of the University of Exeter stated on the University website: “We are pleased that, following on-going consultation with the local community and councillors, the planning committee has approved the revised application for East Park.
Since the initial proposals for this new, on-campus accommodation were announced last year, we have held positive discussions with the community, and I thank them for their time, questions and suggestions.
We took on board their comments and, as a result, reduced the overall floor space of the development, and both the size and also number of buildings within the proposals, as well as ensuring more than 70 per cent of the green space on the site will be allocated to landscaping.
We are committed to easing pressures on the city’s housing stock, and are confident that by offering more student accommodation on campus we will be able to achieve this aim. The new residences will also create dozens of additional jobs for the local community both during the construction phase and when operational.”