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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 11:54 GMT
City's 135m plans go to ombudsman
An artist's impression of the Exeter development plans
The plans include 50 new shops and restaurants
Campaigners against the redevelopment of part of Exeter city centre are preparing to complain to the local government ombudsman.

The city council has given its approval for a 135m plan to revamp 13 acres of the Princesshay area.

But the group Exeter Peoples Choice (EPC) is unhappy with the way the planning application was handled and said a public inquiry should have been set up.

Developers have said they are confident the scheme will win over critics, once work begins.

Princesshay in the centre of Exeter
Developers hope to attract more shoppers
The EPC was set up to fight the plan when it was first submitted in 1998.

It believes the plans are inappropriate for the city because it is not sustainable and that for three years the area will be a building site.

Exeter City Council approved the scheme, which includes plans for 50 new shops and restaurants, in July 2002.

The plans were referred to Deputy Prime Minster John Prescott in August 2002, who said the final decision on the plan will be left to city council.

But the EPC is saying the plans did not get proper consideration and says it is bringing this to attention of the local government ombudsman.

New-look centre

Spokeswoman Catherine Adcock said: "They really rushed this planning through many times at the last minute.

"We didn't have the full amount of time for comments to be made.

"We also really don't believe that the government office gave themselves enough time to read the letters and documentation sent to them."

But developers Land Securities said rebuilding the heart of the city would boost spending by 1.5bn as more shoppers came to the new-look centre.

Spokesman Bruce Pell said: "As far as the company is concerned, everything is really full-steam ahead now.

"This what the business people of Exeter certainly want to see. They've been waiting a long time for this scheme."


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See also:

28 Dec 02 | England
13 Dec 02 | England
07 Aug 02 | England
26 Mar 02 | England
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