3. The issues
The existing evidence and knowledge we have gained from working on previous local plans and the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan has helped us to identify an initial set of issues that we think Exeter and its communities are facing.
The issues that we have identified so far are below. We would like to hear your thoughts on them.
We have declared a Climate Emergency and pledged to work towards creating a carbon neutral city by 2030. We have adopted the Net Zero Exeter 2030 Plan which sets out what Exeter will need to put in place in order to be net zero carbon by 2030.
The new Local Plan will include policies and proposals that contribute to meeting this challenging ambition and to make the most of the opportunities of a net zero carbon city.
Health and wellbeing
Generally, Exeter is a healthy city with high levels of walking and cycling, large areas of green space and access to a range of health facilities. However, people living in its more disadvantaged areas can have comparatively poor health, lower literacy and may experience frailty earlier. Traffic has led to increases in air pollution and noise in some areas. Crime and anti-social behaviour can be a concern. Housing quality can also significantly affect health.
The new Local Plan will play a part in improving health and wellbeing by supporting ambitions to achieve increases in physical activity to get 50 per cent of people walking or cycling to work, improving air quality and providing quality housing.
We know that housing is a big issue. The Government requires around 630 new homes in Exeter each year and Covid-19 has underlined just how much we need good quality housing.
The new Local Plan will need to help address the shortage of affordable homes in the city and consider how best to provide the good quality accommodation we all need. Young adults, families, older people, those with disabilities, students and gypsies and travellers all have specific housing needs which we need to meet.
Economy and jobs
The city is at the heart of the Greater Exeter area and has one of the fastest growing economies in the UK. Whilst Exeter has like all cites been significantly impacted by Covid-19, predictions are that it will be one of the quickest to bounce back. There is a strong ambition to grow the economy with a focus on innovative business sectors, making the most of a skilled workforce.
The new Local Plan needs to support the economy and green growth by identifying the employment sites and infrastructure we need. This will help to increase prosperity and wellbeing.
The future of high streets
A vibrant and prosperous city centre with complementary bustling neighbourhood shopping areas is central to the success of the city. However, traditional high streets are under pressure through the growth of online shopping, a trend accelerated by Covid-19, and so we need to re-think how they function.
Leisure, cultural attractions and the night-time economy are likely to play an increasingly important role in attracting people to our high streets and will help support our offer for tourists.
The new Local Plan will support the high street as it evolves and continues to play a central part in our lives.
High quality places and design
The quality of the places in which we live and work is fundamental for so many reasons, including to support our health and well-being, attract investment and generate pride in our city. Development offers opportunities to create high quality places that respond to Exeter’s distinct characteristics, reflect local culture and integrate with existing communities, promoting social cohesion and healthy lifestyles.
The Local Plan must ensure that development is located in the right place and provides well-designed buildings and spaces.
Historic environment and culture
Exeter’s rich historic environment is part of what makes the city unique and special and helps to shape the city’s culture today. It improves our communities’ quality of life and pride in the city and helps to support our economic prosperity.
New development inevitably raises challenges for our historic environment, but the new Local Plan provides an opportunity for us to protect and enhance our historic assets whilst celebrating and exploring the culture of the city and our communities as they evolve.
The city enjoys a high quality natural environment, with valley and city parks, public rights of way and the Exe Estuary. The hills to the north and north-west of the city give Exeter a distinctive character while the city also contains a rich variety of wildlife habitats.
The new Local Plan will need to manage development pressures on our local environment to provide benefits for landscape character, wildlife, flood risk and air quality and to help us to combat climate change.
Sustainable transport and communication
The way we travel will be vital to the success of Exeter. It will be central to achieving net zero carbon, growing prosperity, healthy lifestyles and improvements to our environment. In future, travel won’t just be about whether we walk or drive - digital communications will also be key.
The new Local Plan will need to ensure that Exeter is resilient to changes in travel, supporting innovative development in the right places show-casing real options and fresh approaches to transport.
Infrastructure and community facilities
Our communities rely on local infrastructure to function and prosper; transport infrastructure helps us to get around, doctors surgeries provide our health care, schools educate our young people, digital infrastructure helps us to communicate and greenspace and leisure facilities provide us with the opportunity to relax.
The new Local Plan will be vital to identify the infrastructure which we need, ensuring it is provided in the right way, at the right time and in the right place.
Question 2: Are these the main issues facing Exeter? Are there any issues which we should change, add or remove?
This consultation has now closed.