#EXEStThomas – Reflections at the First & Last

Over the past 4 years, I’ve spent far too long opposite the First & Last pub, studying both the bus stop and the junction there.

Refections of the First & Last
Refections of the First & Last

The bus stop there is claimed to be “the most used in Exeter” – but is that because it serves 18 Stagecoach buses every hour (plus additional services from outside of Exeter run by Western Greyhound, County Bus and others) rather than passenger numbers?

And during rush hour, the yellow box junction often gets clogged up – the stop line on Cowick Lane is set back and visibility for cars turning right into Cowick Street from this direction is non-existant as the line of sight into the exit of the junction is blocked by the First & Last.

An unusual view of the First & Last - no traffic on the yellow box junction
An unusual view of the First & Last – no traffic on the yellow box junction

For a long while, the pub has been empty and I had a dream that it might be knocked down to widen the junction to allow for free-floowing traffic!

But that’s not to be.

There is now a planning application lodged with Exeter City Council – 14/4821/03 – for a “change of use from existing public house and one first floor dwelling in to three dwellings plus an additional new build dwelling and associated ancillary facilites.”

The architects planning statement has the following to say:
1.02 Site Analysis
The site and existing building present a number of positive opportunities for development:
– Generous existing footprint.
– Existing interior suitable for conversion to residential.
– City centre location with good public transport connections.
– Surrounded by residential properties.
– Good solar orientation and access to south and west light.
– Large unused site to the rear with existing vehicular access.

So, with the developer delivering 6 cycle parking spaces and an acknowledgment in the planning statement of “good public transport connections (as well as many local amenities within walking distance), why are there plans for 4 vehicle parking spaces?

And what about that “existing vehicular access”?

At present, there is a large open car park with a good view of traffic on Cowick Lane.

Current park car at First & Last
Current park car at First & Last

The developer’s proposed addtional dwelling would be on the site of this car park, meaning cars would exit onto the very busy Cowick Lane along a very narrow alleyway with restricted visibility..

Screen shot 2015-01-13 at 07.19.55

And it worries me that the exit would be directly in line with the STOP line for traffic wishing to turn right into Cowick Street – as I pointed out above, already a source of traffic chaos

It seems to me that this development could easily be car-free, and along with that an understanding that residents wouldn’t be eligible for permits for nearby residential parking zones.

Indeed, perhaps the developer could go further?

In his Autumn Statement in December 2014, the Chancellor announced changes to affordable housing provision,  and developers no longer need to provide affordable housing on projects of 10 homes or less outside of rural areas. (Previously in Exeter, this requirement was for developments of 3 or more as outlined in the  Exeter City Council Core Strategy – akaLocal Plan).

As a consequence, there is no affordable housing provision proposed within this application. Maybe the developer might be able to use this saving as a s106 planning consideration into helping set up a Car Club in St Thomas (see Chapter 11 of ECC Supplementary Planning Document on Sustainable Transport).

Further Reading:
Some of these thoughts formed the basis of comments on ECC Planning Application 14/4821/03
DOWNLOAD from here –  PDF Icon Com – Cllr Paul Bull (0.03 MB)