14 January 2016

Princesshay Leisure proposals would bring substantial benefits to Exeter and the local community

From talking to local people over the last year, I know there is a strong desire to see Exeter’s bus station regenerated.

We share this ambition, which is why we’re proposing to invest substantially to transform this tired, underutilised site into a state of the art destination, which not only provides fantastic new amenities for local people and visitors to Exeter, but also brings a broad package of benefits to the city and its community.

A key focus for us in developing our plans has been considering how the scheme can contribute more broadly towards making Exeter an even better place to live, work and visit. Our experience in the retail and leisure sector tells us that the projects that support communities and businesses, consider environmental impacts and boost the local economy, are the ones that deliver over the long term, both for cities like Exeter and for us as investors. Consequently, we recognise that delivering a wide range of community benefits and generating a commercial return are one and the same thing.

A crucial part of this approach involves not just thinking about buildings, but also about the spaces around them that create a sense of place. Safe, accessible and easily navigable spaces where people can meet, interact and relax are what bring successful destinations to life, in tandem with a great mix of shops, restaurants and leisure amenities. These spaces are also vital in ensuring new developments provide opportunities to support that all important sense of community that make cities like Exeter so popular. For example, we brought our UK -wide Thrive campaign to Princesshay last summer, which gave an opportunity for local people and groups to come together and participate in a whole range of fun activities themed around healthy living. The event was incredibly popular, with families enjoying a fun day out, children learning about healthy eating and fitness, local clubs having the chance to boost their membership numbers. The new public spaces that form part of our proposals for the bus station will create more opportunities like this for the local community.

As well as actively supporting the community, large-scale developments can provide a significant boost for the local economy, especially through the jobs they generate. We anticipate that around 350 jobs could be created through the construction phase of the project, with a further 400 to follow in the new shops and restaurants. At a scheme we’re currently delivering in Newcastle, we worked closely with the local authority on training packages for young people looking to get into construction or retail. In Exeter, we’d be keen work with the council and any other relevant groups to explore how the new development might be able to benefit local people looking for employment, training and skills.

Of course, the increased footfall that will be created through the delivery of new amenities will also boost economic activity in the city centre as more people visit Exeter, stay longer and spend more. With people spending longer in Exeter during their visit, they will navigate further around the city centre which means that existing traders across the city will benefit from increased footfall and consumer spending.

Finally, large-scale regeneration also presents opportunities to improve city centre infrastructure. For example, as part of the wider masterplan, the council will deliver a brand new bus station improving access to the city centre by public transport. Our proposals will also see city centre connectivity improved, with changes to Paris Street enabling people to move more easily and safely between the existing Princesshay Shopping Centre, the new scheme and the rest of city centre, and a package of measures introduced support the city’s highways infrastructure.

We’re excited about playing our part in regenerating this site to create an attractive, modern gateway for Exeter, supporting jobs, economic growth, investment and business and the local community. We look forward to a decision on our outline planning application by the City Council.

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