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Newsletter 24 January 2021

Concern at development ideas for
the Canal Basin 



Dear <<First Name>>

New proposals have emerged for a housing development on part of the quayside at Exeter Canal Basin which will affect the regeneration of the Heritage Harbour.
The plan is for the development of Exe Watersports Association’s premises and adjoining boat storage area to take 46+ 'Build to Rent' homes incorporating new space for the watersports clubs on the ground floor.
They appear in the 2020-2 business plan of Exeter City Living, which is a company wholly owned by Exeter City Council. The company has brought forward a 'pipeline of future development opportunities for the Council to consider'. 
There seems so far to have been no consultation, or briefing for local residents, ward councillors, or stakeholders, but it is understood EWSA has known of the plans. 
Information about Exeter City Living’s ideas was contained in a City Council Strategic Scrutiny Committee report last July along with a raft of other housing development sites. 
The site plan for the Canal Basin plan is at the top of this newsletter.
It is obviously of great concern to the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal because of the impact the development could have on the future of the Heritage Harbour, and because once again there has been no consultation at a key stage of formulating plans for the canal. 
However, Exeter City Living did pinpoint the Basin for non-waterway related development before the Heritage Harbour designation was achieved by the Friends in the autumn.
An appeal to members
The Friends must decide how to react to the proposals and to make our views known at an early stage. Our response should additionally link with others who have an interest. We need one or two members to offer help to co-ordinate this by gathering information, talking to councillors and drafting responses to the council and the press as necessary. Would you help? Please email me if you are interested in becoming involved. The Friends committee will also discuss it.

A sniff of fresh air, but what next?
Exeter’s St. Leonard’s Neighbourhood Association reports on its website that the SecAnim ‘smelly factory’ on the edge of the canal is to close.
Their report says:
 ‘We have been told by Exeter City Council that SecAnim (J L Thomas) will cease to operate from Christmas. No formal application has yet been received to surrender the permit, but it is anticipated that this will be submitted shortly.'
It will be welcome when it happens. ‘It was always a factory in the wrong place,’ as the Residents Association says. The factory is a processing plant for dead animals and their by-products. The smell has been the cause of much complaint in the past.

So the question is: what is the future for this waterside site and how will it contribute to the amenities of the canal? What part should it play in the regeneration of waterway activities and skills?
The Friends will need to examine alternatives for the site's future and put forward ideas at the very beginning of discussions. The area is likely to cost a large amount of money to clean up. 
Again we need offers of help from members to gather the facts and to sift through feasible proposals in case the site is lost again to non waterway-related use. Please send me an email if you are interested.
‘Road map’ update
The next step towards the Friends’ objective of commissioning a ‘road map’ for the maritime revival of the canal and basin will be a meeting this Friday (28 January). We still have to convince ECQT to fund the project, which will establish complementary aims for the City Council, ECQT and the Port Authority when they consider projects that affect the canal’s future. 

Time and tide
The Friends of Exeter Ship Canal will be five years old next month. We were inaugurated on 22 February 2016. Prior to that there was about a year's preparation.
I think our achievements to date are something to celebrate. Excellent new members and active supporters have joined; not as many as we would wish but we are now 50 or so strong and are adding to our numbers. 
However time does pass and after six years of my being in the chair I think it is time now for the group to plan for a change and find new energy. Additionally from my point of view, the canal and the Friends have occupied a large slice of my life for the last six years and have taken a toll, and I am not as fit as I was. 

So I have decided to step down as chair, and in giving three months notice to 30 April enable discussions to take place about how to proceed. 
We will hold a committee meeting at the start of next month. In the meantime I am sending members this announcement of the change and asking for your ideas and thoughts. I hope a general meeting will take place (remotely, of course) towards the end of February by when plans will have been formulated for discussion.
Naturally I am torn in arriving at my decision but the moment is right, especially as the challenges for the canal are at a genuinely exciting point as soon as the covid restrictions are eased. 

Do take care of yourselves.
With all best wishes

John Monks
Friends of Exeter Ship Canal
01392 493559


We are always keen to welcome new members who are supporters of the canal. If you know anyone who may be interested please feel free to forward this newsletter to them.

Membership is:
Individual – £8 a year
Family – £15 a year
Lifetime – £100

Corporate or business membership can also be arranged.
For all membership enquiries please contact:
Mick Green, secretary
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