Since our petition presentation to the Scrutiny Committee last year, residents’ fight to protect fields across the Northern Hills has seen some tough days in planning hearings. Despite surviving the appeal to build on Higher Field with some clear protection from the Planning Inspector, the adjacent field is now subject to a new application.

Exeter City Council’s latest version of the Exeter Plan includes all the Council’s proposals to shape development across the city for the next 20 years.

But the Plan is missing a key ingredient: a vision for the Northern Hills

We’re preparing a detailed proposal for the NORTHERN REACHES to be a protected nature landscape. Connecting to Stoke Woods and the Clyst Valley Regional Park on the Northern edges of the city, reaching across all the city’s valley parks and into the Exe Valley, this new parkland could be the super-connector: not only for people but for wildlife, too. 

A green horizon for everyone across the city. The natural protection of the Northern Reaches and the accessible open character of the hills, connects Exeter’s city heritage to significant cultural heritage within Stoke Woods across the landscape of iron age hill forts. The hills provide important biodiversity protection for a nature network of protected ancient woodland, overlooking the Exe Valley lowlands carved from deep-time geology and reaching into the medieval history across Pinhoe and the Clyst Valley.

The Northern Reaches is a ready-made extension of the city’s Nature Recovery Network – required by law and demanded by climate change. Please help us to get it onto the horizon of the city’s local plan.

The Commonplace platform is designed in sections and includes an outline vision which you scroll through to lots of detailed policies. It’s quite the maze of information. But we’ve done the homework and if you’re short of time here are some key points: here’s where the landscape of the Northern Hills fit in


Significant protections are needed across the Northern Hills as an important connection to the nature recovery networks of the city’s Valley Parks and the Clyst Valley Regional Park. All land parcels in the Aug 2022 sensitivity study designated as “high” or “medium/high” must be formally protected from built development alongside any undeveloped land >92m above sea-level and any land within 100m of a watercourse. 
The Northern Hills provide the missing link connecting the Valley Parks to the Clyst Valley Park. A Northern Reaches Masterplan should be developed to connect the valley parks to the Clyst Valley as an extended Nature Recovery Network 
Also sections on Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure


The Northern Reaches proposal connects the city’s iconic heritage assets to the iron age, Roman and medieval history of the ancient woodlands of Stoke Woods and the Clyst Valley. The hills enhance the local environment, provide access to important cultural heritage and a master plan should be developed to designaccess routes and protection strategies.


POLICY CE1 > comment
The Northern Hills should be formally protected and included in landscape-led solutions to provide green infrastructure and biodiversity net-gain. A Northern Reaches master plan should be developed to ensure its status as a Nature Recovery Network connecting the city’s valley parks to the Clyst Valley.


The protection of the city’s sensitive hills in the north and north-west of the city should be formally recognised and a masterplan for the Northern Reaches should be developed. All land parcels in the Aug 2022 sensitivity study designated as “high” or “medium/high” must be formally protected from built development alongside any undeveloped land >92m above sea-level and any land within 100m of a watercourse.

Providing infrastructure in a timely manner is essential, but it is also vital to prepare and schedule recompense for communities in Pinhoe which have been overlooked.


As part of ambitions for Exeter to be the most active city in the UK, active travel infrastructure should include connection to the Clyst Valley Park and the Two Counties Way across the Northern Hills, extending the range of accessible car-free locations.
The value and importance of the Northern Hills to the wellbeing of people across the city should be recognised as part of developing a formal masterplan to ensure the accessibility of and protection for a Northern Reaches park.


Providing a long lasting framework for landscape should not only take advantage of landscape features but importantly provide lasting protection for the cultural and historical heritage. These principles should be integrated within a masterplan for the Northern Reaches as a significant nature recovery network.