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History & heritage contributions

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2 months ago

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1. We agree with 10.3 that ‘The overarching need and desire to respect, conserve, enhance and celebrate Exeter’s past is crucial to its future’ and with 10.14. ‘The City Council will monitor buildings or other heritage assets at risk through neglect, decay or other threats...’ However, you do not have to look far in the City to encounter the embarrassingly poor condition and presentation of key examples of Exeter’s past. The City Walls (a classic example of failure of maintenance), the Exe Bridge (poorly presented with access difficulties), St Katherine’s Almshouses (imaginatively presented with artwork in the past but currently taped off and in need of maintenance) and the Clarence Hotel (disgracefully still derelict after the 2016 fire and blighting Cathedral Close) have self-evidently not been ‘respected, conserved and enhanced’. Neither do you have to look far to see how under-resourced, out-dated and neglected the protection of Exeter’s heritage has become. The heritage culture of Exeter is not a fixed body of known assets in 2024 but a live entity, always with more to be discovered, better understood, revalued and re-thought for its own interest as well as in the context of new development. There is no commitment in the Local Plan to actively investigate and identify heritage assets or to add to, update and make public existing documentation about the heritage to enable its proper protection, or its place in the City’s tourist industry. This is in stark contrast to the work of the Dean and Chapter on the cathedral and its setting. Thanks to their recognition of the value of the historic environment, new discoveries are being made, written up and widely communicated through local and national media. A few examples of the City’s shortcomings in this regard should be noted.   After the closure in 1990 of Exeter Archaeology, whose work transformed the understanding of the City and had a major impact on its cultural offer, there was a dedicated post of City Archaeologist for a time, until that post was combined with Conservation Officer. Surely, however tight the City’s finances are, Exeter, considered important enough to be one of only five places in England and Wales with an Area of Archaeological Importance, deserves both a dedicated archaeologist and a dedicated conservation officer?   The Exeter City Historic Environment Record can only be seen by appointment. It is not available online which makes the centre of the county’s capital city, which it covers, a poor relation to most of the rest of the county for access to heritage records. As Historic England states in Historic Environment Records (HERS): ‘HERs are information services that provide access to comprehensive and dynamic resources relating to the archaeology and historic built environment of a defined geographic area’ and are ‘a primary source of information for planning, development-control work, and land management.’ They are also important to local communities as ‘an important starting point for anyone interested in the archaeology, built heritage, and history of an area’.   Exeter’s list of undesignated heritage assets (locally listed) available online is in the form only of addresses. As undesignated heritage assets ‘merit consideration in planning matters’ there should be a short description of each of them and their local significance, not only for the planners and planning committee, but for anyone commenting on planning applications.  Each and every one of Exeter’s (often very good) Appraisal and Management Plans for its 20 conservation areas are described on the ECC website as having been ‘last modified’ on 6th April 2016. However, there is no sign of any modification in the documents online, which retain earlier dates, Exeter Central being over 20 years old and the most recent 2009. Surely some of these need updating?   Exeter appears to have no list of Grade 2 buildings at risk. Are there none?   The statutory list of listed buildings for Exeter is outdated and needs revising. 2. We agree with the first paragraph of Policy HH1’…Development proposals will be required to conserve and where appropriate enhance Exeter’s rich heritage and to ensure where possible that development makes a positive contribution to the historic environment and the cultural offering and identity of the city’. We find it difficult to square this with recent and current development proposals. Consent has been granted for tall buildings in the Water Lane redevelopment. In our view this decision is incompatible with the available good understanding of the historic development and the character of the urban landscape here. We do not think it right that the Exeter planners are actively asking developers to build taller than first proposals. We perfectly understand that tall buildings can provide more numbers of residential units that are so important to the City, but we consider that this is having a disproportionately damaging cultural impact on the grain of Exeter’s historic environment and providing ‘numbers’ at the expense of homes in environments that are pleasing to live in. The City is seeking public opinion on tall buildings ‘where appropriate’. We accept that there may be a place for tall buildings in the future of the City but would like to see clarification of where their locations might be ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ in the context of history and heritage.

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3. The City Walls We are pleased to see a specific section on the City Walls and agree that they have an important role in defining the historic city (10.30). We are also aware that substantial costs in prospect for their repair are the consequence of a longstanding failure by the City to undertake regular maintenance as was done in the past. This is an example of poor use of resources. We would like to suggest that in addition to securing the funding for much-needed repair (funding that would not have been needed had regular maintenance not been abandoned), the Council should consider establishing a set of policies specifically for redevelopment inside the City walls with a prohibition on new tall buildings to ensure that the historic core inside the walls remains distinctive and the cathedral maintains its dominance relative to building heights in its immediate setting. Outside the City walls we would welcome a policy that identified suitable locations for tall buildings according to the character and scale of the historic environment. We would like therefore to see the following included in the History and Heritage policies of the Local Plan. The value of Exeter’s history and heritage will be reflected in active encouragement by the City Council to discover more and make existing and new understanding available. The City will make the best use of limited resources to update the documentation and registers which identify and explain the resource to ensure protection and make that information easily accessible. The priority will be putting the HER for the centre of Exeter online in an accessible format, following the system in place for the Devon County HER. The second priority will be a review of the list of undesignated heritage assets which will be made available online with brief descriptions and accounts of why the assets are locally significant. The Council will set an example of best practice by seeing to it that landmark buildings are kept well-maintained and effectively explained to residents and visitors. The City Walls will be used to define the historic core of Exeter with a prohibition on new tall buildings inside the walls. Outside the City walls the location of tall buildings will be strictly determined by the existing roof heights of the historic cityscape.

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2 months ago

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Section 10: History and heritage It is amazing – in fact disturbing – that this section addressing the importance of heritage to the 2040 vision of a liveable and connected city contains no link to, or mention of, Exeter’s status as a Heritage Harbour; no mention of the history of its waterway connections pre-dating the Romans; the fundamental role of the Exeter Ship Canal in shaping the city’s story or its place in national transport history; or to the Route Map for the future of the canal and the heritage harbour. As paragraph 10.3 indicates, Exeter has much ‘iconic heritage’. The Quay and Canal – the first in Britain since Roman times – should be included in this paragraph to give fully rounded context to the city’s character and the importance of waterways and the sea to its identity and history as well as their living contribution to Exeter’s economy and liveability. Without such, consideration in the Exeter Plan of history and heritage is lacking a major element. In 2020 Exeter Canal and Basin were designated as a Heritage Harbour. Exeter was only the fourth in Britain to receive the prestigious recognition in the scheme run by the Maritime Heritage Trust and National Historic Ships. The scheme is not for museum-like maritime exhibits but would protect the long-term regeneration of the canal and basin as a working heritage harbour that celebrates the continuation of its past in the new requirements of the future. Strategic policy HH1, conserving and enhancing heritage assets The Heritage Harbour protects historic infrastructure and buildings; preserves the full functionality of the canal; delivers opportunities for low carbon activities based around traditional skills such as boat restoration and new clean hi-tech technologies; contributes significantly to health and wellbeing; connects people and neighbourhoods with the city’s maritime history and contemporary culture; and fosters business growth. Making the most of the working Heritage Harbour offers should be included in the Plan as part of the strategic heritage objectives.

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Heritage assets and climate change 10.26 Incorporating historic structures in collective steps towards net zero highlights the possibility of creating hydropower from the river weirs which are heritage assets. Exeter’s historic Canal, Canal Basin and Quay demonstrate the reality of Exeter’s ambition to become a city where heritage and innovation can fuse into a sustainable present.

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3 months ago

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• Heritage S-HER-1: Proposals that may compromise or harm elements contributing to the significance of heritage assets should demonstrate that they will, in order or preference: a) avoid b) minimise c) mitigate compromise or harm. If it is not possible to mitigate, the public benefits for proceeding with the proposal must outweigh the compromise or harm to the heritage asset.

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3 months ago

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As trustees of the Methodist Church, Sidwell Street, we are concerned that limited resources, both financial and human, put this Grade 2 * building at risk. We are aware and, and others are becoming aware, that this building is almost unique, not only in the UK, but world wide. It has superb acoustics, an excellent organ and unusual construction and architecture. We wish to register our desire to work with the Council and other agencies to preserve this building and maximise its use.

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3 months ago

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See comments submitted on behalf of Bloor

Why do you feel this way and do you have any other comments?

See comments submitted on behalf of Bloor

Why do you feel this way and do you have any other comments?

See comments submitted on behalf of Bloor

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