‘Prison block’ Exeter flats plan sparks fury

Plans to build an imposing five-storey block of 45 flats on the edge of Marsh Barton has sparked a wrath of objections with the design being compared to a ‘prison block’.

The applicant, Westcountry Land (Alphington) Ltd, is proposing to build the apartments adjacent to Chudleigh Road in Alphington, Exeter, and the A379 junction.

The existing site is currently on arable land with a small commercial workshop.

The accommodation will be a mix of eight one-bedroom apartments, 31 two-bedroom apartments, three three-bedroom apartments, and three three-bedroom duplex apartments.

The revised submission will comprise of a basement car park, three storeys of apartments, one penthouse floor and a top storey office unit.

In total there will be 52 car parking spaces, including two visitor spaces.

The development proposes a simple flat roof building, formed of two interconnecting blocks. Recessed balconies are proposed for the apartments to provide views across Exeter and surrounding areas.

Development on this ‘island’ site, forms part of a larger outline planning application which included the residential development on the large site divided to the west of Chudleigh Road, now under construction by Barratt Homes.

The planning application states: “The design considers the existing site conditions and future development within the area, thus proposing a contemporary facade and building form that can act as a legible entry point into nearby suburbs i.e. Alphington and Marsh Barton.”

It continued: “As part of a wider masterplan for development of this area, new facilities will be provided, to create a self-contained community, albeit connected and available for the residents of the adjoining settlements.

“This will include an education campus with, nursery, primary and secondary school provision, together with neighbourhood retail facilities, a health centre and community facilities, including sports pitches and the wider recreational amenity that will be provided.”

The planning application has been revised following objections made to previous plans.

The current land at Chudleigh Road in Alphington

The new application states: “The scheme has been refined through a genuine evolutionary process due to extensive consultation since the initial over masterplan scheme was presented.

“This actively demonstrates the willingness of the applicant to actively participate and engage in community involvement and genuinely respond to comments and feedback that has been received from Teignbridge District Council, other landowners, Exminster Parish Council, The Alphington Forum and the general public.

It added: “The outline planning permission was for a building of five storeys in height. This new design proposal seeks to retain the five-storey massing but with careful consideration to minimise the appearance of mass.

“The design utilises a simple grid pattern of equal dimensions with large apertures puncturing the brick facades. The change in materials between red and grey brick, combined with changes in plane on each elevation all succeed in breaking up the apparent building mass.

“The building mass is formed of two connecting blocks of three and five storeys with a large communal roof terrace on the third floor.”

Despite the changes, the application has already began to receive many objections.

One objector said: “This proposal is not in keeping with the rural setting and the surrounding area does not have the infrastructure to support more housing. Traffic management is already contested and cannot sustain more traffic.

An objector said: “It is not in anyway in keeping with the landscape. In that area, there is no building taller than three storeys. If the landfill site goes ahead, will the residents want to have a good view and earshot of that?”

An alternative view of the proposal at Chudleigh Road in Alphington

An objector from Starcross said: “It looks like a prison block. It is totally out of keeping with the surrounding area.”

An objector from Exminster said: “The proposed planning is completely out of keeping with the surrounding area. If this development is truly needed in this location (given no amenities nearby) I would strongly suggest a more sympathetic design/style of building.

“In addition, the local infrastructure will need some serious updates. It is already a nightmare getting past the Devon motel and into Marsh Barton.”

The proposed block of flats adjacent to Chudleigh Road in Alphington

A local resident added: “This five-storey building is totally out of keeping with the area. How Teignbridge District Council can even contemplate this on green fields is a mystery.

“This design is more akin to an office block. It is very close to the A379 and will be in line of sight for miles around. Is this design how you want Devon portrayed to anyone passing on the A30? Is this what passes for a landmark building these days?

“Even with all the mundane developments nearby, this is badly designed. The parking is inadequate and on the opposite side of the road, surely that isn’t safe in anyone’s book. Please note my strong objection to this eyesore, particularly as it is on greenfield farmland.”

To view the planning application  please click here.