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Vision – A healthy and inclusive city

Addressing Exeter’s housing needs links to the aim in the 2040 vision of creating a healthy and inclusive city. Enabling our communities to access the homes they need will help to promote both physical and mental health, provide safety, security and reduce inequalities.

Vision – A liveable and connected city

Addressing Exeter’s housing needs links to the aim in the 2040 vision of being a liveable and connected city. Providing new homes close to jobs, services and facilities will help to provide high quality neighbourhoods and create inclusive communities.

Vision – A leading sustainable city

Addressing Exeter’s housing needs links to the aim in the 2040 vision of becoming a leading sustainable city. Helping our communities to access the homes they need, in locations close to jobs, services and facilities, will bring environmental, social and economic benefits to the city.

Objective: Provide the quantity, type and quality of homes that Exeter needs in the right locations. Helping to deliver the strategic priorities of housing and building great neighbourhoods and communities and delivering a healthy and active city.

Introduction

We know that housing is a big issue, not just in terms of the number of homes we need but also in terms of their quality; Covid-19 underlined just how much we need good quality housing. The Exeter Plan will help to 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, key workers, care leavers, students and gypsies and travellers all have specific housing needs which we need to meet.

Chapter Summary

The policies in this section set out to provide the quantity, type and quality of homes that Exeter needs and to ensure they are in the right locations.

Homes

Vision – A healthy and inclusive city

Addressing Exeter’s housing needs links to the aim in the 2040 vision of creating a healthy and inclusive city. Enabling our communities to access the homes they need will help to promote both physical and mental health, provide safety, security and reduce inequalities.

Vision – A liveable and connected city

Addressing Exeter’s housing needs links to the aim in the 2040 vision of being a liveable and connected city. Providing new homes close to jobs, services and facilities will help to provide high quality neighbourhoods and create inclusive communities.

Vision – A leading sustainable city

Addressing Exeter’s housing needs links to the aim in the 2040 vision of becoming a leading sustainable city. Helping our communities to access the homes they need, in locations close to jobs, services and facilities, will bring environmental, social and economic benefits to the city.

Objective: Provide the quantity, type and quality of homes that Exeter needs in the right locations. Helping to deliver the strategic priorities of housing and building great neighbourhoods and communities and delivering a healthy and active city.

Introduction

We know that housing is a big issue, not just in terms of the number of homes we need but also in terms of their quality; Covid-19 underlined just how much we need good quality housing. The Exeter Plan will help to 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, key workers, care leavers, students and gypsies and travellers all have specific housing needs which we need to meet.

Chapter Summary

The policies in this section set out to provide the quantity, type and quality of homes that Exeter needs and to ensure they are in the right locations. Select the boxes below to see summaries of the policies in this chapter. To see and comment on the full versions select "next" at the bottom of the page. 

Policy H1 sets out the City Council’s proposed approach to meeting the Government’s housing requirement for Exeter through houses already completed, houses with existing planning permission, allocated sites, and ‘windfalls’ (sites which come forward unexpectedly rather than those allocated). The Government updates housing requirements annually and as of 2023 it requires the City Council to plan for 642 new homes to be built in Exeter each year.

Policy H2 lists the development sites that the City Council, after assessment, suggests should be allocated to help meet the housing requirement. In line with the spatial strategy set out in policy S1, there is a focus on large, brownfield sites located close to the city centre and key transport hubs, with good access to green infrastructure including our Valley Parks.

Policy H3 sets out the broad requirements for when developments are required to deliver affordable housing, where, and the types and proportions of affordable housing required. Affordable housing can be summarised as subsidised housing for people whose needs are not met by the market and includes affordable housing both for rent and for ownership.

Policy H4 requires 20% of homes on build to rent schemes to be for affordable private rent, made available to eligible and qualifying households who meet the City Council’s local connection criteria or to key workers. Build to rent is high quality housing that is purposely built for private sector rent.

Policy H5 requires co-living developments to be located where day-to-day needs can be met without using a private car and suggests co-living accommodation should not be located where it would cause an excessive concentration of co-living housing in the locality. Co-living housing is high quality accommodation that is purposely built for private sector rent. It is a type of non-self-contained housing with an emphasis on communal living and social interaction, often for young professionals.

Policy H6 identifies sites considered to be appropriate for custom and self-build homes and sets out other requirements for custom and self-build development. A custom or self-build home is a home built or commissioned by an individual (or group of individuals) for their own occupation, where they have meaningful input into the final design and layout.

Policy H7 supports the provision of good quality specialist accommodation for people with support needs and for which there is an identified housing need.

Policy H8 sets out the criteria that proposals for purpose built student accommodation must meet. Purpose built student accommodation provides students with good quality, well managed housing and it eases pressure on existing housing in the city. Since 2006/07, the University and City Council have also shared a target for at least 75% of additional student numbers to be housed in purpose built student accommodation.

Policy H9 aims to facilitate the provision of accommodation for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in a way that considers the travelling community’s wellbeing and traditional way of life whilst respecting the interests of Exeter’s settled community.

Policy H10 sets out the requirements that must be met in order for a planning application for a house in multiple occupation to be supported. A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one 'household' (i.e. not a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.

Policy H11 will ensure that, in most cases, existing homes are retained through the development process. This aims to protect against the loss of residential accommodation.

Policy H12 sets out the requirements for proportions of accessible homes required as part of new housing developments. It includes requirements for wheelchair adaptable homes and accessible and adaptable homes, both standards defined by Building Regulations.

Policy H13 sets out criteria to ensure that developments propose the most optimal density of housing and mix of house size (i.e. number of bedrooms) to ensure we meet housing needs and consider what is appropriate for the site and surrounding area.

Policy H14 is one of a raft of policies in the Exeter Plan intended to ensure that new homes are healthy and safe whilst considering the impact of development on existing residents and communities.

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Housing requirement

The Government updates housing requirements annually and as of 2023 it requires the City Council to plan for 642 new homes to be built in Exeter each year. This means 12,840 homes are needed over the 20 years of the Exeter Plan.


Policy H1 sets out our proposed approach to meeting the Government’s housing requirement for Exeter, identifying four sources of housing supply between 2020 and 2040. The total supply of 14,124 homes for twenty years allows for a healthy headroom of 10% above the target of 642 new homes per year. This headroom will allow for choice and competition in the housing market and means that the Exeter Plan will be resilient to uncertainties such as a delay in developing a particular site or changes to housing needs or Government policy.


Just over 2,600 homes have been built in Exeter since April 2020 and planning consents (including permissions awaiting Section 106 Agreements) are in place for a further 5,300 homes. In addition, we anticipate that just under 950 homes will be built on windfall sites during the plan period. Windfall sites are those that cannot be identified in the plan because they come forward on a variety of sites unexpectedly during the plan’s lifetime.


The number of homes required on new allocations in the plan is calculated by deducting the homes which have already been provided, existing permissions and windfalls from the total housing requirement of 14,124. As policy H1 shows, to meet the housing requirement we need to allocate sites for around 5,270 new homes. As well as housing, the larger sites will provide employment and various other uses and infrastructure to provide high quality new neighbourhoods.

H1: Housing requirement

The City Council will target the delivery of at least 642 homes per year between 2020 and 2040. To meet this target and allow for a headroom of 10%, delivery of 14,124 homes is proposed from the following sources:

  • A total of 2,604 completions in 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23;
  • Approximately 5,304 homes from existing planning consents;
  • Approximately 5,272 homes on site allocations; and 
  • Approximately 944 homes on windfall sites.

Housing allocations

Policy H2 lists the development sites that we suggest should be allocated to help meet the housing requirement. In line with the spatial strategy set out in policy S1 there is a focus on large, brownfield sites located close to the city centre and key transport hubs, with good access to green infrastructure including our Valley Parks.


The list also includes a number of smaller brownfield sites and some greenfield sites that are within the urban area. Two of the sites are currently allocated in our existing plans and need to be included in the Exeter Plan because this plan will replace our existing policies. Taken together, the sites provide a good balance of location and scale to enable the stable provision of homes over the twenty years of the plan.


The majority of the sites can be built within twenty years. The exceptions are the two larger brownfield sites at Marsh Barton and Water Lane which are likely to take more than 20 years to be fully redeveloped. The policy indicates how many homes we think each site could provide by 2040. Further details of how each site could be developed are provided in the Site Allocations section of the plan.


To ensure that the housing requirement is met, housing development on windfall sites within the urban area will be supported provided that proposals comply with all relevant policies in the development plan. This includes developments in residential gardens where proposals reflect the pattern of streets and buildings, the plot sizes and the ratio of built form to garden of the surrounding area. However, innovative designs can also sometimes help to achieve an acceptable solution that respects the area’s character. Proposals for residential annexes that do not have a physical or functional link with the main home will be assessed as new homes under policy H3 and other relevant policies in the development plan.


The six strategic brownfield development sites were included in the original Liveable Exeter initiative. The previous outline draft version of the plan included all eight of the original Liveable Exeter sites. The Liveable Exeter sites at West Gate and Sandy Gate are not included in this draft plan. At Sandy Gate this is because of constraints associated with employment land, a school, the Sidmouth Road Park and Ride and the M5 motorway services. At West Gate this is because of constraints associated with the Riverside Leisure Centre, the operation of the Exe Bridges roundabout and historic environment assets including the medieval bridge and St Edmund’s Church. The retail park at Exe Bridges is retained as a smaller allocation.


A revision has been made to the boundary of the South Gate site to remove areas of current housing and the Cathedral and Quay car park due to delivery constraints; the site now focuses on the Magdalen Street Car Park and the highway land in the area. A small revision has been made to the Red Cow site to include the university accommodation south of the station forecourt on Bonhay Road. Finally, the East Gate site has been slightly extended to include the Manor Court office building at Dix’s Field.

H2: Housing allocations

The following sites are proposed for allocation in the Exeter Plan for the provision of new homes, with associated infrastructure:

Strategic brownfield development sites: Mixed use

Marsh Barton - Reference 14 - 1,000 dwellings

Water Lane - Reference 15 - 1,600 dwellings

East Gate - Reference 52 - 850 dwellings

Red Cow - Reference 22 - 280 dwellings

North Gate - Reference 42 - 200 dwellings

South Gate - Reference 46 - 170 dwellings

Predominantly residential sites

Land at Old Rydon Lane - Reference 89 - 350 dwellings 

Land at Cowley Bridge Road - Reference 143 - 231 dwellings

Exe Bridges Retail Park -Reference 39 - 230 dwellings

12-31 Sidwell Street - Reference 51 - 51 dwellings

Land at Exeter Squash Club, Prince of Wales Rd - Reference 26 - 40 dwellings

Land at Newcourt Road, Topsham - Reference 91 - 38 dwellings

Land adjoining Silverlands - Reference 18 - 37 dwellings

Belle Isle Depot, Belle Isle Drive - Reference 72 - 33 dwellings

Land to the west of Newcourt Road, Topsham - Reference 94 - 31 dwellings

Chestnut Avenue - Reference 75 - 26 dwellings

Former overflow car park, Tesco - Reference 80 - 18 dwellings

Land behind 66 Chudleigh Road - Reference 125 - 16 dwellings

East of Pinn Lane - Reference 106 - 14 dwellings

Land at Hamlin Lane - Reference 60 - 13 dwellings

Fever and Boutique, 12 Mary Arches Street - Reference 100 - 10 dwellings

88 Honiton Road - Reference 110 - 10 dwellings

Garages at Lower Wear Road - Reference 84 - 9 dwellings

99 Howell Road - Reference 24 - 6 dwellings

The principle of housing development on unallocated windfall sites within the urban area will be supported.

We have no specific questions on this policy. If you wish to comment on specific sites you can do this on the sites information section on the homepage.

Affordable housing

In meeting the Government’s housing requirement, it is important that we help to deliver the variety of homes that our communities need. This includes affordable homes, which are particularly important at this time when the costs of living are high and when many people face difficulties in paying everyday bills.


Affordable housing is defined more fully by the Government in the National Planning Policy Framework, but can be summarised as subsidised housing for people whose needs are not met by the market. Broadly it includes:

  • Affordable housing for rent: This includes homes for social rent and affordable rent, which are managed by a Registered Provider and let with subsidised rents.  Social rented homes have the highest level of subsidy and therefore the lowest rent.
  • Affordable home ownership: These homes give the occupants the option to buy at subsidised prices in various ways, either immediately or after some years of living in the properties.  First Homes are one type of affordable home ownership, comprising new properties built as part of larger housing developments that are sold with a discount from market prices of at least 30%. The discount is retained each time the property is sold.  Other affordable home ownership products include shared ownership and rent to buy. 

Affordable Housing will be provided in accordance with the City Council’s emerging Housing Strategy and the Exeter Local Housing Needs Assessment (LHNA). The LHNA calculates that around 35% of Exeter’s housing requirement comes from households who need affordable housing.  In advance of a whole-plan viability assessment of the plan, a judgment has been made that 35% may be a reasonable and viable quantity of affordable housing to seek from major developments using Section 106 Agreements. This is the policy requirement in the City Council’s existing Core Strategy policy. The types of housing development to which this percentage will apply include new build, conversion and mixed use schemes, phased developments, developments by Registered Providers, and other proposals for self-contained dwellings (e.g. extra care or assisted living housing). Policy H3 does not apply to build to rent and co-living housing, for which different affordable housing requirements are set out in policies H4 and H5, or to purpose built student accommodation, which is not subject to an affordable housing requirement. 


In advance of a whole-plan viability assessment of the plan, the proposed tenure split in policy H3 reflects the types of affordable housing that the LHNA calculates are needed in Exeter. The greatest level of need is for social rented homes. First Homes delivered under criterion a(iv) should be sold with a discount from market prices of at least 50%. 


In line with policy H13 which seeks to optimise residential densities, the City Council will negotiate development at a higher density where it considers that the number of dwellings proposed for the site is too low. This may alter the affordable housing requirement. When applying the percentages in the policy, calculations will be rounded to the nearest whole number. 


Where the City Council accepts a less than policy compliant amount of affordable housing on grounds of viability, an overage clause will be sought in the Section 106 Agreement in respect of future profits and affordable housing provision. The need for an overage payment will be established through the submission of a development account once the scheme has been completed.


The City Council expects affordable housing to be provided on-site. Affordable homes provided on-site should be grouped in clusters of no more than ten units spread across the site. Off-site provision or a financial contribution in lieu will only be agreed by the City Council in exceptional circumstances, for example because it will result in a better mix of housing tenures in a locality. The methodology for calculating financial contributions will be published on the City Council’s website, with costs updated annually. Contributions will be used by the City Council for the provision of affordable housing in Exeter. 


Affordable homes should be delivered without public subsidy and (with the exception of First Homes) be disposed of to a locally operating registered provider agreed with the City Council. Should the affordability restriction on an affordable home be lifted, the subsidy will be recycled to provide new affordable housing within Exeter as approved by the City Council. The affordable homes must be made available to eligible and qualifying households who meet the City’s Council’s local connection criteria or to key workers.  


In addition to seeking affordable housing through policies H3, H4 and H5, the City Council aims to deliver 500 new affordable Council homes by 2030.

H3: Affordable Housing

Affordable housing will be required on developments of 10 dwellings or more or with a site area of 0.5 hectares or more. The affordable housing will be delivered as follows:

a. At least 35% of the proposed homes will be affordable housing, to remain at an affordable price in perpetuity and to include:

i. 50% homes for social rent;

ii. 13% homes for affordable rent;

iii. 25% First Homes with a discount of at least 30% on market prices; and

iv. The remaining balance to comprise an additional affordable homeownership product(s).

b. Custom and self-build homes, specialist accommodation and accommodation for gypsies and travellers will be considered as affordable housing where it complies with the definition of affordable housing in the National Planning Policy Framework and the requirements of this policy;

c. The City Council will only accept a departure from these percentages if it agrees that scheme viability will be affected, based on a full development appraisal submitted by the applicant;

d. The size mix of the affordable homes must reflect local need, as evidenced by the City Council’s latest Local Housing Needs Assessment;

e. The affordable homes must be provided on-site unless the City Council agrees that there is robust justification to allow off-site provision or a financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision;

f. The affordable homes must be fully integrated into the development, built to the same standards as the market homes and completed proportionately with the market homes; and

g. If the development is eligible for Vacant Building Credit, the applicant must set out this evidence in a Vacant Building Credit Statement.

Note: Policy not yet tested by viability appraisal.

Build to rent

Build to rent is high quality housing that is purposely built for private sector rent, although it can form part of a larger multi-tenure development. Schemes offer longer tenancy agreements of three years or more and are professionally managed, in single ownership and management control. Residents are usually households that can afford to buy a home on the open market, but choose not to for varying reasons. Build to rent can play a role in meeting the need for high quality, well-managed and secure private rented housing in Exeter.


Affordable housing on build to rent schemes should be provided in the form of affordable private rent, unless the City Council agrees that an alternative type of affordable housing is appropriate. In accordance with the Government’s Planning Practice Guidance, policy H4 requires 20% of homes on build to rent schemes to be for affordable private rent, made available to eligible and qualifying households who meet the City Council’s local connection criteria or to key workers. When applying this percentage, the calculation will be rounded to the nearest whole number. Should the affordability restriction on an affordable home be lifted, the subsidy will be recycled to provide new affordable housing within Exeter as approved by the City Council.

H4: Build to rent

Build to rent housing proposals will be supported provided that they:

  1. Provide high quality housing, designed and built specifically and entirely for rent;
  2. Are held as build to rent for at least 15 years under a covenant;
  3. Offer tenancies of three years or more to all tenants, with rent and service charge certainty for the tenancy period; and
  4. Are in single ownership and control and professionally managed in accordance with a management plan.

On build to rent developments of 10 or more homes or with a site area of 0.5 hectares of more, at least 20% of the homes will be for affordable private rent and delivered as follows:

  1. The affordable homes must be secured as affordable private rent in perpetuity;
  2. The affordable homes must be let with rents (inclusive of any service charges) set at local housing allowance level;
  3. The affordable homes must be owned and managed by the same landlord as the market build to rent homes;
  4. The affordable homes must be fully integrated with, and built to the same standards as, the market build to rent homes; and
  5. The affordable homes must be provided on-site, unless the City Council agrees that there is robust justification to allow off-site provision or a financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision.

Co-living housing

Co-living housing is high quality accommodation that is purposely built for private sector rent. It is a type of non-self-contained housing with an emphasis on communal living and social interaction; communal spaces and facilities are provided to offset private individual bedrooms that may be smaller than nationally described space standards. Co-living developments differ from houses in multiple occupation due to their larger size and the extent of communal spaces and facilities. They differ from hotels and hostels due to the requirement for minimum tenancies of no less than three months.


Co-living housing will not be appropriate for everyone but can provide accommodation for single people or couples who choose not to live in self-contained houses, flat shares or HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation). Occupation is not restricted to any particular group of people and is typically aimed at young professionals.  The Local Housing Needs Assessment concludes that co-living developments could help to address the increasing lack of housing for young people in Exeter.  


To ensure that co-living housing provides an acceptable standard of amenity for   residents, the City Council will expect private bedrooms to meet nationally described space standards, or to do so when an allowance for communal spaces and facilities is taken into account. As a minimum, each resident must have convenient access to a communal kitchen, dining space, social space, workspace, outdoor amenity space, laundry and drying facilities and storage and refuse facilities. These minimum facilities must be included within the rent and be readily available to residents, with no need to book. To help build relations with the local community, some communal facilities and spaces (e.g. restaurants and gyms) may be made available to the wider public where appropriate.   


Planning applications must be accompanied by a management plan, to be agreed with the City Council and secured through a Section 106 Agreement. The management plan must show how the whole development will be managed and maintained to a high quality, provide acceptable levels of amenity to neighbouring residents and ensure an appropriate mix of tenants. Matters to be covered will include:

  • On-site management/concierge;
  • Security and fire safety procedures;
  • Move-in and move-out arrangements;
  • The maintenance of internal and external areas of the development;
  • The cleaning of communal and private spaces and operation of linen changing services (if provided);
  • The management of facilities for wider public use (if provided);  
  • The management of deliveries;  
  • The provision of activities for residents to encourage social interaction; and 
  • The regulation of types of residents.

As co-living is a form of built to rent housing, 20% of the bedrooms should be for affordable private rent. This will be secured in accordance with policy H4.


Given the City Council’s net zero ambitions, policy H5 requires co-living developments to be located where day-to-day needs (including employment) can be met without using a private car.  Proposals should also not contribute to an excessive concentration of co-living housing in the locality, as this will not support the maintenance or creation of a mixed community.  


Since the market for co-living housing in Exeter is relatively new, applicants must show that consideration has been given to the future use of the building should it become surplus to requirements. For example, adaptations could allow the premises to be used as student accommodation, alternative build to rent housing, or office space.

H5: Co-living housing

Co-living development proposals will be supported when they:

  1. Provide high quality housing designed and built specifically and entirely for rent;
  2. Provide residents with a private ensuite bedroom in a cluster or studio flat, within a development that includes sufficient communal facilities and services to meet the needs of all residents;
  3. Deliver at least 20% homes for affordable private rent, in accordance with policy H4;
  4. Do not contribute to an excessive concentration of co-living housing in the locality;
  5. Are located within a controlled  parking zone and are well connected to employment and local services and facilities by walking, cycling and public transport;
  6. Are accompanied by a travel plan and travel pack and includes no private car parking other than for people with disabilities;
  7. Incorporate appropriate facilities for bike storage, vehicle drop-off and pick-up and service vehicles;
  8. Are in single ownership and control and are professionally managed in accordance with a management plan that enables the City Council to regulate the types of residents within the development;
  9. For all of the homes, provide minimum tenancy lengths of no less than three months and offer all-inclusive rent that covers utilities and access to on-site services; and
  10. Are future-proofed in terms of design to support potential alternative uses as appropriate.

Custom and self-build housing

A custom or self-build home is a home built or commissioned by an individual (or group of individuals) for their own occupation, where they have meaningful input into the final design and layout. The Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 requires the City Council to keep a register of individuals and groups who wish to acquire serviced plots of land in Exeter in order to custom or self-build a home and to have regard to that register when carrying out its functions. The City Council also has a legal duty to grant enough planning consents to meet the level of demand for custom and self-build housing expressed by the register. Policy H6 sets out how the City Council intends to meet that legal duty. 


Since the City Council’s register was opened in 2016, demand has been expressed for around 23 custom and self-build plots per year by residents of Exeter and people living further afield. The City Council is currently working to further promote the register. The site threshold and percentage requirement in criterion b of policy H6 will be determined once that work is completed, also taking into account the whole-plan viability assessment of the plan.   


Serviced plots secured under criterion b must be provided on-site and made available for sale before construction has commenced on 50% of the other homes on the site. On phased developments that meet the policy threshold, each phase should meet the percentage requirement. The City Council will only accept a departure from the percentage requirement if it agrees that scheme viability will be affected, based on a full development appraisal submitted by the applicant. Financial contributions in lieu of on-site provision will only be considered acceptable where the City Council agrees that on-site provision will prejudice delivery of the wider scheme. Financial contributions will be based on up-to-date evidence of custom and self-build plot values.  


A serviced custom or self-build plot is one where the following infrastructure is provided by the developer of the wider site:

  • Access to/from the public highway. The plot does not need to adjoin the public highway, but it must have a guaranteed right of access and this should be sufficiently easy to facilitate the delivery of bulky materials during construction; and
  • Electricity, water and waste water connections. Services must be provided to the boundary of the plot so connections can be made during construction, or adequate alternative arrangements must be possible such as the use of a cesspit rather than mains drainage. 

To ensure high design quality, the City Council may require applicants to prepare design codes and plot passports for schemes involving custom and self-build housing. These may be secured by means of a condition at outline planning application stage. Detailed (i.e. full or reserved matters) planning applications must include sufficient information to show that the initial homeowner has had primary input into the final design and layout of the home. 


In terms of criterion a and b of the policy, applicants should offer a range of serviced plot sizes. These should be clustered together, clearly marked out and not be crossed by services or rights of way. The City Council will require plots to be marketed in accordance with a strategy and valuation that it has approved. If a plot has not been sold at the end of the marketing period, the City Council may accept its return to an open market unit.

H6: Custom and self-build housing

Custom and self-build housing will be supported:

  1. On the following sites, which are allocated for custom housebuilding:
  1. Land adjoining Silverlands - 37 homes
  2. Land behind 66 Chudleigh Road - 16 homes
  3. Former overflow car park, Tesco, Russell Way - 18 homes
  4. Land at Newcourt Road, Topsham - 38 homes
  1. On development proposals of [TBC] or more homes, where [TBC]% of serviced plots should be made available to custom house-builders;
  2. On windfall sites within the urban area; and
  3. As part of the affordable housing provision on major developments, provided that the custom and self build homes comply with the definition of affordable housing in the National Planning Policy Framework and the requirements of policy H3.

Plots for custom and self-build housing will be provided as follows:

  1. A range of plot sizes must be provided having regard to demand expressed by the City Council’s custom housebuilding register. The plots must be integrated within the wider development;
  2. Plots for detached homes must have scaffold margins within the plot boundary and be free of party-wall requirements;
  3. Prior to marketing, each plot must be developable by a custom house builder or self-builder, with no constraints to prevent immediate purchase and development. The City Council must be satisfied that legal access and servicing will be possible for plot purchasers before outline or full planning permission is granted; and
  4. Each plot must be actively and appropriately marketed for at least 12 months from it being fully serviced and developable.

Note: The numbers of custom and self-build homes and percentage of custom and self-build homes to be included in criterion b will be inserted into policy H6 following further work on the custom and self-build housing register.

Specialist accommodation

Specialist accommodation encompasses a wide range of housing for people with support needs. It includes, but is not limited to, housing for children in care, young people leaving care or with other support needs, older people who require at least an element of care, people with disabilities who require additional support or for whom independent living is not possible, victims of domestic abuse, rough sleepers and people leaving hostels and refuges. Specialist accommodation ‘products’ include sheltered housing, supported living, extra care housing, residential care homes, nursing homes and children’s homes.


There is a shortage of specialist accommodation in Exeter, in quantity, range and affordability. Evidence also indicates that the need for housing with support will increase over the plan period. For example, the Institute for Public Care predicts that, between 2020 and 2040, the number of people living in Exeter aged 65 or over with a limiting long term illness will increase by around 4,500, the number of people aged 65 or over who require care home accommodation will increase by around 450, and the number of people aged 18 to 64 with a mental health disorder will increase by around 300.  


Policy H7 supports the provision of good quality specialist accommodation for which there is an identified housing need and sets out requirements that new developments must meet (subject to the intended resident group. For example, criteria c and d of the policy will not apply to housing for young people leaving care). Given the economic profile of the majority of people who need specialist accommodation, particular support will be given where proposals meet the National Planning Policy Framework definition of affordable housing and where the applicant can demonstrate close working with Devon County Council on the provision of care packages for residents (where relevant). Self-contained specialist housing will be expected to deliver affordable housing in accordance with policy H3. 


Devon County Council has advised that around 250 units of extra care housing are required in the city by 2033. To help meet this identified need, the proposed site   allocations at Marsh Barton and Water Lane include a requirement to provide an extra care housing scheme.

H7: Specialist accommodation

Development proposals for good quality supported and specialist accommodation which meet an identified need will be supported, where they:

  1. Are designed to meet the support and care needs of the residents and enable them to retain their independence;
  2. Are well-connected to local services and community and support facilities, including health facilities and public transport;
  3. Provide suitable levels of safe storage and charging facilities for residents’ mobility scooters; 
  4. Provide accessible pick-up and drop-off facilities close to the principal entrance suitable for taxis, minibuses and ambulances; and
  1. Do not result in unacceptable harm to the amenity of neighbouring residents.
Specialist accommodation may be provided to meet the affordable housing requirements arising from policy H3, provided that it complies with the definition of affordable housing in the National Planning Policy Framework and the requirements of policy H3.


Purpose built student accommodation

The University of Exeter is of great importance to the city’s socio-economic and cultural prosperity. The number of full time equivalent students studying at the University’s Exeter campuses has increased significantly in recent years, from 11,220 in 2006//07 to 27,300 in 2021/22. The University currently forecasts more limited growth over the next few years, although this is uncertain due to the ever-changing landscape of higher education.  


The City Council will support proposals for purpose built student accommodation where they meet the criteria set out in policy H8. This is because purpose built student accommodation provides students with good quality, well managed housing and it eases pressure on existing housing. The University guarantees to provide accommodation for first years in University-managed accommodation, to ensure that students are supported during the transition from home-life. Since 2006/07, the University and City Council have also shared a target for at least 75% of additional student numbers to be housed in purpose built student accommodation. Progress is being made to achieving this target, with 64% of new students since 2006/7 being housed in purpose built student accommodation by 2022. 


The approach to supporting purpose built student accommodation in appropriate locations goes hand in hand with work being undertaken by the City Council on houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and the associated Article 4 Direction that is currently in place. The Article Direction restricts the ability to convert regular houses into HMOs which are often occupied by students. The restriction currently covers an area close to the University of Exeter’s Streatham and St Luke’s campuses. Earlier in 2023 the City Council consulted on options to extend the area of restriction. 


Given the City Council’s net zero ambitions, purpose built student accommodation should be located where students’ day-to-day needs can be met without using a private car. Proposals should also not contribute to an excessive concentration of purpose built student accommodation in the locality, as this will not support the maintenance or creation of a mixed community.  


Purpose built student accommodation must provide residents with a good standard of amenity. Private bedrooms must be of an adequate size and students must have convenient access to sufficient space for cooking, dining, socialising and working, outdoor amenity space, laundry and drying facilities and storage and refuse facilities. 


Planning applications must be accompanied by a management plan, to be agreed with the City Council and secured through a Section 106 Agreement. The management plan must show how the whole development will be managed and maintained to a high quality and provide acceptable levels of amenity to neighbouring residents. Matters to be covered will include:

  • On-site management/concierge;
  • Security and fire safety procedures;
  • Move-in and move-out arrangements;
  • The maintenance of internal and external areas of the development;
  • The cleaning of communal and private spaces and operation of linen changing services (if provided); and
  • The management of deliveries.

The City Council will use Section 106 Agreements to ensure that purpose built student accommodation is solely occupied by students during term time. Lettings to non-students during University holiday periods may be appropriate, for example as accommodation to support University conferences.  

Given the uncertainties around the future growth of the University, applicants for   purpose built student accommodation must show that consideration has been given        to the future use of the building should it become surplus to requirements. For            example, adaptations could allow the premises to be used as co-living or built to rent    housing, or office space.

H8: Purpose built student accommodation

Development proposals for purpose-built student accommodation will be supported when they:

  1. Are located on the University of Exeter’s campuses, in the city centre or on sites that are within controlled parking zones and well-connected to the campuses, local services and facilities by walking, cycling and public transport;
  2. Do not contribute towards an excessive concentration of purpose built student accommodation in the locality;
  3. Provide residents with high quality housing comprising a private ensuite bedroom in a cluster flat or studio, within a wider development that includes sufficient communal facilities and services to meet student needs;
  4. Are accompanied by a travel plan and travel pack and includes no private car parking other than for people with disabilities;
  5. Incorporate appropriate facilities for bike storage, vehicle drop-off/pick-up and service vehicles;
  6. Are in single ownership and control and professionally managed in accordance with a management plan; and
  7. Are future-proofed in terms of design to support potential alternative uses as appropriate.


Gypsy and traveller accommodation

Policy H9 aims to facilitate the provision of accommodation for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in a way that considers the travelling community’s wellbeing and traditional way of life whilst respecting the interests of Exeter’s settled community. No new sites for permanent accommodation are identified in this draft of the plan. This is based on the findings of a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment for Exeter which indicates only a low level of need from households that meet, or may meet, the planning definition of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. It is likely that additional needs can instead be met on small windfall sites following consideration against policy H9. This has occurred in the past and allows members of the travelling community to bring forward sites to meet their specific requirements.


The Gypsy and Traveller Assessment has not yet concluded on the need for additional transit pitches in Exeter. The Assessment’s findings will be reflected in the next consultation version of the plan. 


Whether permanent or transit, new sites for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation should be designed and located in accordance with policy H9 and other relevant policies in the Exeter Plan. Sites must be located where the local environment is of a satisfactory quality, so locations adjacent to noisy or polluting land uses or in areas of flood plain will not be suitable. The Department for Communities and Local Government Advice Note ‘Designing Gypsy and Traveller Sites’ Good Practice Guide (May 2008) provides a good benchmark for considering the design of new sites and should be considered alongside policy H9.

H9: Gypsy and traveller accommodation

Development proposals for gypsy and traveller pitches, or plots for travelling show-people will be supported where:

  1. Suitable onsite facilities are provided including space for parking, storage, children’s play, sewage and waste management;
  2. Safe and convenient vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access to local facilities are provided and proposals minimise impacts on the local highway network; 
  3. The site provides suitable environmental quality for the residents; 
  4. There is no unacceptable harm to the amenity of neighouring residents; and 
  5. The proposal does not cause an unacceptable landscape or ecological impact and is not in an area at high risk of flooding.

Gypsy and traveller accommodation may be provided to meet the affordable housing requirements arising from policy H3, provided that it complies with the definition of affordable housing in the National Planning Policy Framework and the requirements of policy H3.


Residential conversions and houses in multiple occupation

The conversion of an existing building (e.g. a house or guesthouse) to flats or a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) can make a valuable contribution to the housing stock, provided that environmental health standards are maintained, amenity is appropriate and unacceptable highways problems do not result. All HMOs should meet HMO licence standards (including space standards) to ensure an appropriate level of amenity for occupants. In addition, proposals must meet nationally described space standards where they involve converting houses to flats, or non-residential buildings to flats or HMOs.


The majority of HMOs in the city are occupied by students studying at the University of Exeter. Existing HMOs are focused in locations close to the University’s campuses, which can affect their character. The City Council has introduced an Article 4 Direction in these locations to help manage further increases in the number of HMOs. The Article 4 Direction means that, in these locations, changes of use from Class C3 (dwelling houses) to Class C4 (HMOs occupied by between three and six people who share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen) will require planning permission. Within the Article 4 area, planning applications for new HMOs will not be granted planning consent. A map of the Article 4 Direction area is available on the City Council’s website. This is currently being reviewed by the City Council.


Policy H10 will apply to changes of use from Class C3 to Class C4 HMOs in the Article 4 area and, throughout the city, to changes of use or conversions of existing buildings to flats, Class C4 HMOs and sui generis HMOs. The City Council’s Houses in Multiple Occupation Supplementary Planning Document (also currently being reviewed) will provide additional guidance on the implementation of policy H10 and the Article 4 Direction, the Residential Design Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) provides further details on the City Council’s approach to residential conversions and the Sustainable Transport SPD provides the standards used to determine an appropriate level of car and cycle parking.

H10: Residential conversions and houses in multiple occupation

Development proposals for the conversion or change of use of a building to flats or a house in multiple occupation will be supported when they:

  1. Respect the character and appearance of the building and surrounding area;
  2. Will not cause unacceptable harm to the amenity of neighbouring residents;
  3. Provide high quality housing that includes sufficient internal and external space to meet the residents’ needs;
  4. Make appropriate provision for refuse storage and car and cycle parking; and
  5. Will not have unacceptable transport impacts. 
Development proposals for the conversion or change of use of a building to a house in multiple occupation in the Article 4 area will not be permitted.


Loss of residential accommodation

There is a high demand for housing in Exeter and a substantial requirement for new homes. Retaining existing homes and making full use of the existing housing stock complements the provision of new residential sites and helps to ensure a wide choice of homes in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework. Whilst there may be occasions where other material considerations warrant the loss of residential accommodation, policy H11 will ensure that existing homes are retained in most cases.


H11: Loss of residential accommodation

Development proposals which result in a net loss of residential units will not be permitted.


Accessible homes

The number of people in Exeter with limiting long term illnesses or disabilities that affect their housing needs is significant and growing. It is important that people  have the choice of remaining in their own homes rather than moving due to       inaccessible housing.


Whilst the requirements of policy H12 may have to be modified following a whole- plan viability assessment of the plan, the need for accessible homes in the city justifies setting Building Regulations M4(2) as the default minimum standard for all new homes. It also warrants requiring 10% of market homes on all new housing developments to be adaptable for wheelchair users and requiring 10% of affordable homes on all new housing developments to be adapted for wheelchair users at the point of completion (in both cases meeting Building Regulations M4(3) standards). Once fixed, the City Council will only accept a departure from the percentages in policy H12 where it is satisfied that they are not feasible for site specific or viability reasons. If a departure from the M4(2) requirement is accepted, the City Council will instead expect the proposed homes to meet Building Regulations M4(1) standards.


M4(3) homes should be distributed throughout a development to provide a range of locational choices, aspects, views and unit sizes. Where any part of an approach route (including the vertical circulation in communal areas of an apartment block) is shared between dwellings of different categories (i.e. M4(2) and M4(3)), the design provisions of the highest numbered category of home served should be applied. This will ensure that residents are not limited by the design of communal areas.

H12: Accessible homes

New housing development will include the following proportions of accessible homes:

  1. Market homes: At least 10% will be built to meet wheelchair adaptable standards (Building Regulations M4(3)), with the remainder built to meet accessible and adaptable standards (Build Regulations M4(2)); and
  1. Affordable homes: At least 10% will be built to meet wheelchair adapted standards (Building Regulations M4(3)), with the remainder built to meet accessible and adaptable standards (Build Regulations M4(2)).


Housing density and size mix

For Exeter to accommodate its housing requirement in an inclusive and responsible way, every development involving new homes must make the most efficient use of land. This means optimising the density of housing development so that it is appropriate for the site and surrounding area taking into account constraints such as heritage assets, local amenities and the character of the area and any on-site requirements such as public open space and active travel measures that are needed to ensure that development is of a high quality.


The housing density of a development is linked to the number of bedrooms provided within each new home. The latest Local Housing Needs Assessment indicates that market and affordable homes of all sizes will be needed in Exeter to 2040, but particularly two and three bedroomed properties. Family housing should not be omitted from new developments due to a concentration on densities and the range of proposed house sizes must support the creation or maintenance of mixed communities.


Policy H13 sets out criteria to ensure that development proposals for housing offer the most optimal density of housing and mix of house size.

H13: Housing density and size mix (Strategic policy)

Development proposals for housing will:

  1. Make the best use of land by optimising density, taking into account local context; and
  2. In the case of developments of 5 homes or more, incorporate an appropriate mix of house sizes, taking into account:
  1. Local need, as evidenced by the City Council’s latest Local Housing Needs Assessment;
  2. The aim to optimise housing densities;
  3. The proposed tenure mix of the development; and
  4. The mix of house sizes in the locality.  


Residential amenity and healthy homes

It is important that the amenities of existing residents are not harmed by new development. It is also imperative that new homes provide residents with a good standard of amenity and safe and healthy living conditions. Policy H14 is one of a raft of policies in the plan intended to ensure that new homes are healthy and safe. Unless specified elsewhere in this chapter, new homes must meet nationally described space standards. The City Council’s Residential Design Guide SPD provides additional guidance on the City Council’s approach to ensuring good standards of amenity are achieved.


Planning is concerned with the control of land use in the public interest. In general, the protection of purely private interests such as the impact of a development on the value of a neighbouring property or loss of private rights to light or a view are not material planning considerations.

H14: Residential amenity and healthy homes 

Development proposals will be supported when they do not result in unacceptable harm to the amenity of neighbouring residents and, where new housing development is proposed, when they provide safe and healthy living conditions, and good standards of amenity for future occupiers of the development. The following factors will be taken into account:

  1. Privacy and overlooking;
  2. The availability of natural light and outlook;
  3. Whether the proposal is overbearing;
  4. Light and air pollution;
  5. Noise and disturbance;
  6. Odour, fumes and vibration;
  7. Security; and
  8. The ability to feel at ease in home or garden.

For new housing development, the following will also be taken into account:

  1. Whether sufficient internal space is provided for future residents in accordance with the nationally described space standards;
  2. Whether sufficient external space is provided for future occupiers; 
  3. Appropriate provision of storage space for household items, cycles and refuse; and
  4. Appropriate provision to enable working from home. 


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