Culture & tourism

Culture and tourism

Vision – City of culture

Addressing the importance of culture and tourism links to the aim in the 2040 vision of being a city of culture. As the city evolves, promoting culture should be embedded in the city’s growth, playing a vital role in creating high quality development and raising the profile of the city.  

Vision – Accessible world-class education

Addressing the importance of culture and tourism links to the aim in the 2040 vision of creating access to world class education and training. Enabling improvements to educational and cultural facilities will support employers to attract and nurture a skilled workforce. 

Objective: Explore, enhance and celebrate the cultural richness of the city and its profile as a prominent tourist destination. Helping to deliver the strategic priority of thriving culture and heritage.


Culture provides identity and distinguishes one place from another. Exeter is a historic but modern city whose compact size and location means it offers a great balance between urban and rural life. Enhancing Exeter’s cultural offering will be key to future success, building the sense of place and belonging in the city. Exeter is committed to being a healthy and active city with culture embedded as standard to enable people to live fulfilled lives. This will help to promote Exeter as a city of culture and further drive the identity and attraction of the city. 

The Exeter Plan provides for the exploration and celebration of the cultures of the city and our communities as they evolve. The cultural offering of the city will be important to support the spatial strategy and the delivery of brownfield development. Urban living offers a cultural dynamic that is not seen elsewhere locally. Through working in collaboration with delivery partners on other initiatives such as the Cultural Compact, Exeter Cultural Strategy, the Creative Arc, Live and Move (the Sport England Local Delivery Pilot),  the UNESCO City of Literature designation, and the Public Art Strategy, the Exeter Plan will provide opportunities for engagement with literature, creativity, the environment and physical activity in seeking to enhance the city’s tourist and cultural offering. It will also work together with the skills strategy that identifies the creative industries as important for supporting an environment where creative and cultural activity can flourish. 

Chapter Summary

The policies in this section seek to explore, enhance and celebrate the cultural richness of the city and its profile as a prominent tourist destination.

To see and comment on the full versions select "next" at the bottom of the page. 

Policy C1 seeks to protect the many cultural and tourist facilities found in Exeter and support appropriate development proposals that enhance Exeter’s cultural and tourist profile and identity.

Policy C2 sets out the expectation for large scale development to contribute to and reflect local culture through providing high quality, creative public spaces, cultural projects and public art. The cultural contribution should be identified through engaging with local communities.


City of culture

Cultural richness includes anything that relates to how people live. Heritage, recreation, sport, art, literature, music, the natural environment and religion interlock as part of the culture of Exeter, shaping the city’s identity and character and contributing to the city’s economy, prosperity and tourism offer, whilst also supporting inclusive and healthy communities. The importance of cultural, tourism and artistic opportunities in place-making is essential to Exeter’s competitiveness and success in attracting residents, businesses and tourists, identified through Liveable Exeter Principle 7: Connected Culture. The Exeter Plan will support high quality cultural place-making projects in the public realm and community facilities and deliver engaging and active places and spaces.

Cultural activity acts as a community and civic connector, contributes to quality of life and helps to deliver experiences that prompt conversation and reflection, engender debate and critical thinking and deepen understanding of the world. These are essential qualities for Exeter to be a sustainable, healthy and inclusive city where everyone thrives. The Exeter Plan will support the creation of resilient, adaptable, networked communities and centres that support civic pride and local identity.

Exeter’s heritage, cultural sector, education and science institutions, businesses, sports, natural environment and increasingly diverse communities generate a unique sense of place and possibility. They also generate a sense of purpose to face our major challenges. Culture will help to drive investment, and high quality sustainable place-making across the city, drawing communities together to collaborate. Exeter has established a Cultural Compact with support from Arts Council England. This Compact puts value and the importance of the arts at the centre of Exeter’s future. 

The Exeter Civic University Agreement establishes how city partners will work together to deliver shared goals on community priorities which highlight an ambitious culture and tourism offer. The City Council, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) and the University of Exeter are working together on a partnership programme called Creative Arc to create new ideas and projects to address big societal challenges. 

The Creative Arc is a cultural collaboration that will act as a catalyst for culture-led development and social change. Through knowledge-sharing and collaborative working it aims to maximise connectivity with partners across the city and engagement with the community in areas of heritage, regional development, economic regeneration, education, employability and research, attracting significant new investment into the city. It will build on Exeter’s profile as a UNESCO City of Literature identifying creativity and cultural industries as important to Exeter’s profile and reputation as a liveable city. Work with other key educational partners including Exeter College also promotes the importance of cultural activity in creating strong communities. 

Public art will be an important way of increasing the cultural offering and interest of the city. The City Council and Exeter Culture together with the community-based arts organisation, Artwork Exeter, have created a Public Art Strategy seeking to make the most of future art opportunities in a growing city. This will seek to ensure public spaces are designed to engage interest, to be stimulating and unique and act as a focal point to encourage pride of place. It will also recognise that public spaces should be active, distinctive and special and that public art is a powerful tool in regenerating and celebrating our city. 

The Public Art Strategy will be a reference point for the requirements of large scale residential, employment and commercial developments regarding design and public spaces, increasing its profile and setting out expectations. All art for the city, including public art, should meet the key criteria of quality, inclusion and sustainability. A shared set of values should be adopted by all partners to foster positive collaborations and partnership working.

C1: Protecting and enhancing cultural and tourism facilities (Strategic policy)

Existing cultural and tourism uses will be protected unless it is demonstrated that they are no longer viable.

Development proposals that enhance the profile and identity of Exeter as a city of culture and tourist destination will be supported where they do not have unacceptable impacts on local amenity and the quality of the natural, built and historic environment.

The temporary use of sites for cultural activities, particularly in locations where they can help to animate the public realm, will be supported where they will not harm local amenity.

Development and cultural provision

Policy C2 outlines that large scale development proposals will be expected to reflect local culture and provide high quality, creative public spaces, cultural projects and public art proportionally to the scale of development. 

Large scale development proposals should include appropriate cultural and tourism facilities as part of a mixture of uses and within the wider provision of community infrastructure for the local area. Opportunities should be provided as part of mixed-use developments and may also include appropriate cultural and creative meanwhile-uses of buildings or spaces during development.

Policy C2 also outlines that developers should engage with local communities in the process of identifying the development’s contribution to local cultural provision. The City Council will also support formal and informal arts and cultural activities within shared spaces. 

C2: Development and cultural provision (Strategic policy)

All large scale development proposals will be required to demonstrate how they will contribute to local cultural provision in proportion to the scale of development. 

Developers should engage with local communities to ensure this provision reflects local identity.

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