Councillors back new budget for Exeter Bus Station redevelopment

Exeter city councillors have backed an increased budget for a new bus station and state-of-the-art leisure complex.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council, members supported an increase of £7.67m in the previously approved budget for the project.

An extra of £7.05m for St Sidwell’s Point, and an extra £0.62m for the bus station, takes the total budget to £39.92m.

Members authorised the council’s Deputy Chief Executive to enter into a written contract with a construction company to build the developments, which are funded by the city council.

It will be at a fixed price, meaning costs would not be allowed to increase.

A variety of factors, including the economic uncertainty following the vote to leave the European Union, meant the cost of the developments is more than the original budget of £32.25m.

The previous budget did not require any borrowing by the council.

The increase means £6.27m will need to come from borrowing. The cost of borrowing will be more than covered by the expected income the new leisure complex will generate.

Councillor Phil Bialyk, lead councillor with responsibility for bus station redevelopment, said he was delighted work on the project is now set to proceed.

He said: “It has been a long road, but we were determined to get this right. The project will bring much needed new facilities for the people of Exeter. And the investment will help to maintain the long term viability of the city centre, where 20,000 work.

“A lot of work has gone into getting this far, and I can’t wait for work to start so that we can get on with rejuvenating this site and provide a development Exeter can be proud of.”

The city council is expected to sign a contract with a building contractor later in the summer, and work could start before the end of the year.

That would mean the closure of the current bus station, and the introduction of temporary bus arrangements to enable services to continue operating smoothly.

Passengers would be dropped off and picked up at especially created bus stands in the city centre.

St Sidwell’s Point will replace the aging Pyramids swimming pool, which needs a considerable amount of money spent on it to bring it up to modern standards.

The state-of-the-art new leisure complex will feature an eight lane main pool and four lane pool for learners, both with moveable floors.

There is also a confidence pool, 150 station gym, soft play area, café and crèche as well as extensive health and spa facilities.

Due to ultra-filtration, the pools will have exceptional water quality with minimal chemical content.

It will be the UK’s first leisure centre, built to super-efficient low energy Passivhaus standards, saving around 70 per cent on annual fuel costs.

Exeter’s 50-year-old Exeter Bus Station would also be replaced with much-needed and greatly improved new facilities.

Private sector developer the Crown Estate also has planning permission to create a £75m leisure extension of Princesshay at the top end of the bus station site.

The scheme includes a mix of new shops, a cinema, restaurants, cafes, public open space and an amphitheatre at the site. It would lead to the creation of 750 new jobs.

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Last updated 20 July 2017