Four years ago, when I was first standing to be elected Labour and Co-operative Councillor for the Cowick ward, one of the most active issues was the possibility of a Park& Ride site on the site of Oaklands Riding Stables at the Ide Interchange of A30 with A377.
Whilst not opposed to Park & Ride as a concept, I felt there were too many obstacles to make this a viable site and made these views known.
Back in 2011, some 15 alternatives were considered but a scheme in excess of 800 space was desirable, so many sites offering few spaces that this were discounted – see ALPHINGTON JUNCTION PARK AND RIDE ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT – Part 2 Need for the scheme.
Others were rejected on other grounds – technical and environmental reasons in the main.
In particular I was concerned that there was insufficient information on alternative sites and put in a Freedom of Information request to Devon County Council about this [Download pdf from this link FOI01147 – Proposed park and ride site in West Exeter]
So no-one was more surprised that me when I started to hear earlier this year rumours that DCC were looking at alternative sites in and around the Ide Interchange.
And now it seems those rumours are true, as reported by Express & Echo – Plans underway for new Exeter Park and Ride at Ide/Alphington [16 June 2015].
CWEST [ Campaign for SW Exeter Smarter Travel] welcomes this news and I can only echo their sentiments. It means that the Alphington/Whitestone Valley Park, the Alphin Brook Conservation Area and a Site of Nature Conservation Importance – things very dear to local residents – may be saved and the green gateway to the city will still have a clear division between city and countryside from the Ide roundabout.
The new site is Round Field – or Site B in the original DCC submission
In 2011, site B (at time also referred to as the Ide Lane Loop) was rejected by virtue of being too small – discounted by only having a capacity of around 350. is this still too small in 2015? Only time will tell as DCC bring forward detailed plans in the fulness of time.
Recent press comments (and a Save Our Stables – Say NO to Alphington Park & Ride private group on Facebook) have suggested that the Newbery family were against the P&R on their riding stables – and were surprised that the site could have been subject to a Compulsory Purchase Order. All this was detailed in a E&E article in April 2015 – Alphington park and ride remain stalled among fears for Exeter riding stables
Something back then didn’t quite ring true…as Shakespeare says in Hamlet Act 3 scene ii “” The lady doth protest too much, methinks“.
Something else was published this week – a report going to Exeter City Council’s Executive Committee on 23 June 2015 on the draft DEVELOPMENT DELIVERY DEVELOPMENT PLAN DOCUMENT (DPD).
However detailed reading of the documentation causes me to raise an eyebrow.
Here are some extracts from that report:
Realising Exeter’s Economic Potential
13.5 There was only one objection from Genesis Town Planning (acting on behalf of the Newbery Family Trust) regarding the omission of land at Oaklands Riding Stables, which is within Alphington/Whitstone Valley Park; however this land is outside the Core Strategy’s strategic locations for growth and therefore is not proposed for allocation Exeter Green Party considered that employment land should not be allocated until the demand has been proven and existing land is in full use. However, the NPPF requires plans to identify strategic sites to meet anticipated needs over the plan period.
Retail, Tourism and Culture
13.16 A number of respondents suggested that insufficient land is allocated for retail use and consider the document fails to meet the scale and type of retail needed in town centres (as required by the NPPF). Respondents suggested that new sites should be allocated for retail to the south west of Exeter adjacent to the A377 (within the Alphington/Whitestone Valley Park)…
There are also some generic comments such as:
Delivering Homes and Communities
13.12 Consultants acting on behalf of developers and land owners draw attention to the omission of a number of sites from the ‘Allocated housing sites’ policy...
And I’ve just discovered this document from Genesis Town Planning (acting on behalf of the Newbery Family Trust) submited to Exeter City Council when they were working on their emerging Local Plan and it seems to bear out my fears.
Section 2.14 in particular states “the site is suitable to cater for a range of uses including offices, education, retail, leisure, hotel, residential and recreational open space”
I wonder if Genesis Town Planning (acting on behalf of the Newbery Family Trust) will make similar recommendations on the DPD during the next phase of public consultation?