Exeter is a key city for Devon’s economy and as a result, there is high demand for new homes in and close to it. The city is limited by its boundaries and will struggle to meet this demand for housing without developing beyond its boundaries. Therefore, growth is planned in the districts bordering Exeter, which will function as an extension to the city.
Development at South West Exeter was allocated in planning policy. In total, 2,500 new homes were identified. This includes 500 homes within Exeter and 2,000 homes within Teignbridge.
Since the allocation of the development in planning policy, further detail on the development has been established including a Development Framework for Teignbridge and a Development Brief for Exeter.
As of June 2023, planning applications have been submitted for over 2,500 homes at South West Exeter, of which over 2,400 have received planning permission. The applications have been submitted by a number of different housebuilders and landowners and are determined in accordance with the relevant planning policy. Although the development area covers both Teignbridge and Exeter, with applications submitted to the appropriate Local Planning Authority, all the relevant authorities are working together to help the new development to function as a single urban extension.
For large developments, planning applications often have a two-stage process. A permitted outline planning application is required followed by a reserved matters application. The reserved matters application deals with any outstanding details of the outline application proposal, such as appearance, means of access, landscaping, layout and scale. Most of the homes permitted to date have outline planning permission. From these outline permissions, reserved matters applications have been permitted for over 1,600 homes. Further applications are expected to follow.
In addition to new homes, land for employment has also been allocated. Five hectares of land for new jobs were allocated in Teignbridge’s planning policy. This is further to the south west of the housing land, at Peamore. Since then, planning applications for land in this area have been approved. In total, 21.5 hectares of land for jobs has planning permission.
Further information on the planning applications can be found on Teignbridge District Council’s and Exeter City Council’s websites.
The amount of development proposed and the location of it means that lots of infrastructure is needed to support it. A bid to the Housing Infrastructure Fund was made to forward fund the early costs of delivering this infrastructure.
South West Exeter is a complex site. It is located within both Exeter and Teignbridge local authority areas. It is also split by a main road, the A379, and is close to the Exe Estuary, which has environmental protection given its importance. This means that South West Exeter requires a lot of infrastructure to enable the development to come forward. Whilst this is achievable, it is expensive for the development before houses are built. As such, funding is needed to unlock the site.
The Housing Infrastructure Fund is £5.5 billion of funding from government with the aim of unlocking housing sites. Local authorities were able to bid for funding and had to consider schemes that would meet the requirements of the fund. The funding is provided as grant to the county council but allows the county council to reclaim the cost of providing the infrastructure from developers as the housing is built. Once funding is recovered, the county council can use it to support further development sites. Some proposals have been brought forward for use of the recovered funding. These approvals can be viewed on the following Cabinet meeting minutes – October 2020 (page 6) & April 2022 (page 12). Further decisions on how the recovered funding is spent are expected to be made in the future.
Devon County Council initially made an Expression of Interest to the Housing Infrastructure Fund in September 2017 to unlock development at South West Exeter, which was approved in March 2018. Following this, a full bid for £55.1 million was made in September 2018. This was approved in February 2019. Read the bid here.
The bid included a range of infrastructure to support the development, including:
- Four new signal junctions on the A379
- Realignment of Chudleigh Road
- Southern spine road
- New access roundabout on the A379
- Upgrade of the ‘Devon Hotel’ roundabout on the A379
- Public realm enhancements in Alphington
- Access to the school site
- Pedestrian / cycle bridge
- Ridgetop Park
- Electricity substation
- Community building
A new school is planned at South West Exeter to meet the need for school places from the development and the wider area. This is planned as an all-through school, which includes both primary and secondary provision in one school. It is planned that this will admit three classes for each primary age year group and five classes for each secondary age year group. It will take time to grow to this size, but in total, it is expected that the school will offer 1,380 places. In addition, it will have a nursery for pre-school age children. The name of the new school has been announced as the Matford Brook Academy and a headteacher appointed, who is now in post.
The school will be run by Ted Wragg Multi Academy Trust. This was approved as part of the free school competition programme, run by central government. The free school competition programme allows for school providers to apply to run new schools. As the school has been secured through this process, it is being delivered by the Department for Education (DfE) and Devon County Council will work closely with the DfE and Ted Wragg Multi Academy Trust on the delivery of the school.
A reserved matters planning application detailing the appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for the all-through school was approved in February 2021 by Teignbridge District Council. This came after the outline consent achieved in November 2018. Details of the application can be found on the Teignbridge District Council planning website. Works started on site in October 2021, with the school planned to open in September 2023.