A new £300m vision to redevelop a key area in the centre of Exeter has been revealed by Exeter City Council. The Exeter Bus Station development incorporates housing, offices, restaurants and retail, and a possible new multi-use entertainment venue.

The development would sit alongside the proposed new state-of-the art Passivhaus leisure complex St Sidwell’s Point, and a new Exeter Bus Station. Part of the vision also includes the potential to relocate the Civic Centre to the site to allow space for new housing, which will be discussed by the council’s Leisure Complex and Bus Station Programme Board at the end of the month.

The vision for the site includes:

  • The potential for a multi-purpose performance venue, with a capacity of around 1,200 seated or up to 2,500 standing
  • 250 houses on the current Civic Centre site
  • 250 built to rent homes on Sidwell Street
  • A ten-storey, four star hotel with 175 rooms, and a budget hotel
  • Almost 40,000 sq ft of retail units fronting Sidwell Street
  • The relocation of the Civic Centre
  • A new Office Quarter, including blocks over eight storeys
  • More than 15,000 sq ft of food and drink outlets
  • Flexible working space alongside the leisure centre
  • A new square and civic space in Paris Street - Paris Street will be pedestrianised as part of the plan.

Development updates

The previously agreed budget to construct the bus station and leisure complex needs extending, according to a councillors report. The authority has overcome issues concerning inflation, access, site levels, the external cladding and appearance of the new leisure complex, along with inflation.

Councillors will be requested to approve a further budget of £11.88m to build the bus station and leisure complex and commence the site redevelopment. £39.92m has already been approved by council, making the total budget £51.8m. £33.65m has been ring fenced by the authority – income from new homes bonus, community infrastructure levy (CIL), Section 106 agreements and capital receipts for the purpose of delivering the bus station and leisure complex.

The report reveals that the extra funding can be attained without adversely impacting on the medium-term financial plan, and will not raise the council’s saving needs and commitments in the coming years. To achieve this, income will be generated from financial management measures and the leisure centre operator.

Chief Executive and Growth Director Karime Hassan commented: “The development concept provides a mix of uses that will complement the High Street, supporting both the daytime and night time economy, and responds to the demand for housing and offices within the city centre. This is a major and vital investment in a key site, adding almost a million square feet of additional development. Everyone knows the difficulties retail is facing. We need to ensure Exeter city centre is viable, sustainable and continues to thrive, and this investment is crucial for the city.”

Council leader, Pete Edwards, commented: “Redeveloping this site has been a key priority for years and I am delighted that we are now in a position to move forward with a scheme that serves the needs of everyone who lives, works and visits the city – it includes leisure, health and fitness, much-needed housing, office space, restaurants and retail. These plans are very exciting for Exeter, and the new facilities are long overdue.”

Deputy Leader, Rachel Sutton, Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, said: “A clear need for this facility in the city centre has been established. There would be some major obstacles to overcome to deliver a new performance venue – not least of which is funding. But the fact that a potential viable site has been identified to create a purpose-built facility is hugely exciting.”

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