Statement made on behalf of the Hill Barton Residents Association, by Tal Donahue:

“Our concerns regarding this application for 47 homes (19/0699) stem from the context within which it sits. We are not opposed to the principle of more houses but approving this application on its own terms, without significant and binding assurances secured, would risk serious impairment to the creation of a sustainable community in the area, the wellbeing of current and future residents and, furthermore, public health and safety.
The guiding principles of the Monkerton Master Plan must continue to hold sway, particularly in relation to public green space. To take one example, the location of the current application is almost precisely where the Master Plan earmarks land for the ‘Hill Barton Park’: “urban park providing kick-about and informal space for local residents to the south of the ridge and the business community at the Met Office and Business Park”.
As a community we desire assurances that such a park will indeed be delivered, within a suitable timescale and that we are consulted in the process of doing so. This park, furthermore, should conform to the goals laid out in the Monkerton Master Plan and in the approved 2013 site master plan for Hill Barton which establishes a green corridor running across the eastern side of the Hill Barton development area adjacent to and surrounding the Met Office. This is to provide a safe open space for fresh air and exercise as well as encouraging sustainable travel across the site to Pinhoe in the north and the economic centre of Sowton to the south west.
Our concern is whether the applicant is providing requisite space between the residential portion of the development and the cycle path bounding the Met Office land to facilitate the delivery of a truly health and ecologically vibrant green route. The track record of the developer with regard to Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Hill Barton site suggests that environmental responsibility and human wellbeing is low down the list of priorities.
We ask that the committee request details from the applicant regarding issues including neglecting to provide bat boxes (despite a regulatory requirement to do so) and arboreal mismanagement including using concrete in the planting of street-side trees resulting in tree loss.
Exeter has lofty ambitions to move towards carbon neutrality, greater human wellbeing and environmentally responsible economic activity including development. Planning applications must be reviewed in this context otherwise public trust in the council will deteriorate.
The Monkerton Master Plan has wider significance, notably regarding public transport and local facilities. There have been countless public comments on this application regarding the critically unsafe nature of the access road to the development area (Heritage Road). This has become a single lane road due to street parking and, with this and further building works due to commence on the site, it is now a severe hazard. We request the committee review trip calculations conducted for this road, particularly with the addition of more homes through the current application and, indeed, through the additional application 19/1375 for 200 homes as the remainder of ‘Phase 3’. These applications are conjoined and, while handled under separate planning applications, together form the next phase of the Hill Barton Consortium’s development plan approved in 2013.
Highways England responded to the applications together saying – “Due to the nature of the two applications, Highways England will consider their impacts to be linked” and required a Travel Plan to be produced. (We find it concerning that the webpage hosting the
developers materials for planning application 19/1375 appears to be inaccessible).
This development area is, already, fundamentally reliant on car-based transportation. The current cycle path and its planned extension into Phase 3 is welcome and we believe more can be done with signage and wayfinding to help encourage people to use it. The Monkerton rail halt has been the subject of much discussion and forms part of the wider considerations for the Devon Metro initiative. With the planned creation of 50 new homes in this development added to the approximately 200 across the rest of Phase 3 and the 300 or so already delivered, roads around Hill Barton are already at breaking point and highly unsafe.
There is an urgent need to put in place requisite public transport infrastructure.
From the developer’s 2013 master plan: “A new railway station will create a hub of activity and provide excellent access to and from the Met Office, employment and surrounding communities. A local shop and other potential local outlet ground floor uses adjacent to the railway station will reinforce and support this as a focus of activity and movement and provide facilities for commuters.”
An associated petition to progress the plan has received over 1000 signatories.
As an association we have received countless representations from residents and have experience ourselves, of Persimmon using the planned rail halt as a conversation topic when selling to home buyers. If this station is not to be forthcoming then the developers for the Hill Barton site cannot legitimately refer to it in either their planning materials or sales conversations, both of which have a significant impact on the decision making of residents. The same could be said for the local centre promised as part of the approved 2013 Hill Barton master plan. While not directly connected with today’s application the wider implications of Phase 3 will result in significantly higher traffic in the area. Without adequate provision of local facilities residents will have little other choice than to drive to other retail and leisure centres – further impacting the road network.
The land allocated for a local centre directly east of Hill Barton Road and north of the Exmouth railway line remains empty and ripe for development.
In conclusion, this application must be seen in its context. There is a huge opportunity for Exeter City Council to demonstrate its commitment to new homes and, more importantly, to social capital and community creation. A community that is healthy, safe and happy, with adequate facilities and infrastructure to create a flourishing local area will, in the long run, have a net positive impact on the value, in all senses of the word, of Hill Barton”