South West Exeter is a new development located on the edge of Exeter. The development has been planned as a sustainable urban extension to Exeter which will be resilient to climate change and where new and existing residents will be able to access a range of community facilities, shops, jobs, recreation areas and public transport improvements.
The development will represent a new part of the city of Exeter which will reinforce the importance of the southern approach. The aim is to establish a new area within the natural setting of Exeter, sitting below the ridgeline and benefitting from the backcloth of the hills that enclose the city.
The development is expected to deliver 2,500 new homes and also includes 21.5 hectares of land for new employment. The development borders Alphington to the north and to the south extends to the area around the Devon Hotel. The employment site is located further to the south west at Peamore.
Covering an area which extends across the boundaries of both Exeter City Council and Teignbridge District Council, and requiring significant infrastructure investment to unlock development, the South West Exeter project is a collaboration of the District Council’s and Devon County Council working collectively to deliver this city-shaping project.
Exeter is the heart of Devon’s economy and as a result, there is high demand for new homes both in and close to the city. Limited by its boundaries, Exeter will struggle to meet demand for housing without developing beyond its boundaries. Therefore, growth is planned in the districts bordering Exeter, which will function as an extension to the city.
Development at South West Exeter was allocated in planning policy. In total, 2,500 new homes were identified which includes 500 homes within Exeter and 2,000 homes within Teignbridge.
To date, planning applications have been submitted for 2,400 homes at South West Exeter, of which 1,800 have outline planning permission (as of August 2019). Following the granting of outline planning permission, applications for reserved matters approval are required. Reserved matters applications outline the detail of the development sites and are necessary before development can start on site. Several reserved matters planning applications have already been submitted.
In addition to new homes, land for employment has also been allocated. Five hectares of land for new jobs were allocated in Teignbridge’s planning policy at Peamore. Since then, planning applications for land in this area have been approved. In total, 21.5 hectares of land for jobs has planning permission.
South West Exeter is a complex site. It is located within both Exeter and Teignbridge local authority areas. It is also split by a main road, the A379, and is close to the Exe Estuary, which has environmental protection given its importance. This means that South West Exeter requires a lot of infrastructure to enable the development to come forward. Whilst this is achievable, it is expensive for the development before houses are built. As such, funding is needed to unlock the site.
The Housing Infrastructure Fund is £5.5 billion of funding from government with the aim of unlocking housing sites. Local authorities were able to bid for funding and had to consider schemes that would meet the requirements of the fund. The funding is provided as grant to the county council but allows the county council to reclaim the cost of providing the infrastructure from developers as the housing is built. Once funding is recovered, the county council can use it to support further development sites. Decisions on how the recovered funding is spent are expected to be made in the future, once the funding is recovered.
Devon County Council initially made an Expression of Interest to the Housing Infrastructure Fund in September 2017 to unlock development at South West Exeter, which was approved in March 2018. Following this, a full bid for £55.1 million was made in September 2018. This was approved in February 2019.
The bid included a range of infrastructure to support the development, including:
- Four new signal junctions on the A379
- Realignment of Chudleigh Road
- Southern spine road
- New access roundabout on the A379
- Upgrade of the ‘Devon Hotel’ roundabout on the A379
- Public realm enhancements in Alphington Village
- Access to the school site
- Pedestrian / cycle bridge
- Ridge Top Park
- Utility upgrades
- Community building
Since the bid was approved, work is progressing with design and contracts, working towards delivery of the infrastructure.
Pedestrian / cycle bridge
With residential areas, a school and community facilities located to the east of the A379, and residential areas located to the west , it is anticipated that high flows of pedestrians and cyclists will require a safe crossing of the A379. To provide this, a new bridge will be delivered across the A379 to provide a dedicated link for pedestrians and cyclists
The bridge will provide a critical link within the development and encourage residents to walk and cycle to access education, recreation and community facilities.
Ridge Top Park
Ridge Top Park will be a new public park which will be provided as part of the South West Exeter development. Located at the southern extent of the development site, the park is proposed to provide ‘suitable alternative natural green space’ (SANGS).
Ridge Top Park will open to the public in line with the occupation of dwellings and will cater for the recreational needs of residents including provision for dog walkers, circular walking routes and car parking.