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THE DIRECTOR’S TAKE

Chamber board director and chair of Building Greater Exeter Matthew Cousins shares his view on building works, heritage and restoration in Exeter City Centre

There always seems to be some major building work in the centre of Exeter, and without wanting to get political, I am sure that most people will instantly think of student accommodation when new works are announced. It seems to have become the gut reaction to all news stories about planning applications, but it isn’t always the case. There are refurbishment works (like John Lewis) new hotels (like Colsons) and new apartment blocks (like Paternoster House) all of which, whilst potentially  inconvenient in the short term are great for the city as a whole.

The construction sector in the city is vital to the city’s economy.  As an example, it allows my firm Apex to support 60 families in the city, and there are so many companies, and Exeter residents who also rely on this sector for their income. Continuous investment in the built environment by Exeter University & Exeter College, the RD&E, Exeter Science Park, and outside companies wanting to set up home here shows what an attractive proposition this city is.  The local authorities are doing their bit too, with investment in the leisure sector with St Sidwell Point, the care sector with St Loyes and even some local authority owned housing coming soon in Whipton.

As the city regenerates itself, there are some buildings which might not look right now, but as time goes on, we will get used to them.  There were some buildings in the centre of Exeter which have been refurbished and given new life and there are some which are still in dire need of this.. Ultimately, in the majority of cases, does it really matter to the people of Exeter what buildings are used for? When the Royal Clarence site is redeveloped, the frontage will still look as beautiful as it did before the fire, and when the people of Exeter are sat on the Cathedral Green, eating their lunch, will they be thinking about what is behind the front wall, or will they just be happy the building has been restored to its former glory?

Matthew Cousins is a board director of Exeter Chamber, chair of Building Greater Exeter and commercial director at Apex Scaffolding.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Royal Clarence Publication Consultation and Exhibition

The public consultation runs from December 1st-22nd and includes a two-day public exhibition is being held in the HG Wells Room at The Mount, 72 Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 2JY from 10am until 4pm on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th December for people to view the proposals, hear more about the scheme, ask questions of the project team in person, and share their thoughts.

The public consultation runs from December 1st-22nd and includes a two-day public exhibition is being held in the HG Wells Room at The Mount, 72 Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 2JY from 10am until 4pm on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th December for people to view the proposals, hear more about the scheme, ask questions of the project team in person, and share their thoughts.

Feedback from the community consultation will help to inform the proposals before a full planning application and an application for Listed building consent are submitted to Exeter City Council in early 2022.