Members of Exeter City Council’s Leisure Complex and Bus Station Programme Board have voted unanimously in favour of proceeding with interim bus station arrangements in the city centre.
The decision comes after two additional information events took place in Southernhay and Sidwell Street to display plans and take on board feedback on the temporary measures. The other option of using the Triangle Car Park was not progressed after taking on board the views of local residents and businesses.
Subject to Devon County Council approval, a temporary traffic solution will now also be put in place to allow traffic to access two of the Princesshay car parks via Southernhay East, whilst construction works take place.
Councillors voted in favour of proceeding with a design that will retain bus stands in the city centre. Discussions will continue with National Express, Megabus and Devon County Council in relation to implementing appropriate solutions for long distance coaches.
Cllr Phil Bialyk, whose portfolio includes the construction of the bus station and St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Complex said: “I am delighted that we remain on track to deliver this much needed, purpose built bus station for the city.
“We have been keeping businesses and bus users fully informed of our plans, and aim to make the processes as swift and as easy as possible for them.
“A temporary solution will by its very definition, bring challenges. I’m confident the city is ready to pull together to deliver this great facility at such an important gateway to Exeter.”
Bob Dennison, Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, commented: “It's great news that a suitable solution for the temporary bus station has now been approved. We will continue to work closely with Exeter City Council and other partners to ensure our customers can access our buses easily and safely whilst construction work on the new facility takes place.”
Derek Phillips, vice president, Exeter Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Exeter Chamber was pleased to facilitate an event for businesses to view plans for temporary traffic routes while the bus station site is being developed. The Chamber strongly supports the need for a new state of the art bus station to reflect the city’s status as a prime leisure and retail destination. It is important that during this substantial building project, disruption does not deter shoppers and visitors and this plan appears to accommodate this requirement.
Sian Clarke, who has run Terry’s Café with her husband Terry in Sidwell Street for the past 11 years attended the Sidwell Street information event.
She said: “We think it is very positive. I think that most traders down this end will be pleased because of the rise in footfall they will get. It is going to be good for us.”
In order to build a state of the art bus station for Exeter, the existing bus station, opened in 1964, will need to close.
Bus stands and some facilities currently provided in the station will need to be temporarily relocated during construction, which is anticipated to last around 18 months.
Temporary measures will include:
• A minimum of 12 bus stands / stops – with weather protection and information for passengers
• A minimum of 13 layover bays
• A travel centre / ticket sales shop
• Identification / provision of suitable nearby public toilet facilities
• Driver welfare facilities – showers, lockers, resting area
• Bus operator facilities – office accommodation, paying in facilities, operations management facilities
• Directional signage, including tactile/braille for the public advising of the bus stands and services at each stand
Seven stands will be based on Sidwell Street North, five on Sidwell Street South, five on Paris Street and four on Cheeke Street. Layover bays will be located on Red Lion Lane, Verney Sreet, Bampfylde Street, Paris Street, Summerland Street and Sidwell Street.
The decision means avoiding having to relocate the market or taxi rank or use the Triangle Car Park.
Temporary facilities will need to be in place by 30 March 2017, the date the existing bus station site needs to be vacant. Highways alteration works in Sidwell Street and Paris Street would commence this December/January, with the works in Southernay commencing January/February.
The interim arrangements will be in place until the new bus station is completed and open to the public, this is scheduled for December 2018. Areas that had been remodelled during the temporary arrangements will be returned to their current layout.
Robert Crawley, chairman of the Exeter & District Bus Users’ Group said: “Our group was formed as a result of the bus station development. It will continue on for many years to come after it is built. Knowing Exeter as well as I do, I don’t think there was much alternative for a temporary solution.
“During the rebuilding stage there has to be some disruption. We are pleased that the council seems to be doing its level best to minimise that and to get the best facilities.
“We will continue make sure they achieve this.”
The team working on the scheme will now develop the detailed design and consult with accessibility groups, bus user groups and key partners. They are looking to identify a suitable travel centre for ticket sales, driver welfare facilities, appoint a highways contractor to undertake the works and make sure the a comprehensive signage strategy is in place to minimise disruption.
For more information go to exeter.gov.uk/busstation