Exeter's £20m bid to start bus station
COUNCIL leaders have asked the Government for up to £20m to kick-start the huge redevelopment of Exeter city centre.
The massive project to transform the bus station site would create hundreds of new jobs and breathe new life into a rundown part of the city. The planned £200m transformation of the area includes creating a new swimming pool to replace the Pyramids as well as a hotel, shops, restaurants and food store as well as a new coach station.
Many existing buildings would be demolished to make way for the development.
The city council is due to hear next month if its application to the Government has been successful.
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If the money is not forthcoming other funding sources will continue to be examined to get the scheme off the ground.
A feasibility study is currently being carried out and if the council decides to go ahead there will be a major public consultation ahead of a pre-planning application next spring.
Karime Hassan, one of the city's strategic directors, told the Echo: "We are looking at every funding option to support the growth of the city. If this funding bid is not successful we will continue to explore other sources of finance.
"What we are saying to the Government is you have a legacy of investment in the area – £90m in Cranbrook – and in return you need to build on this and you will get a faster rate of growth than in other areas."
Councillor Pete Edwards, leader of the city council, said the development is the next stage in Exeter's rapid economic growth following the rebuilding of Princesshay and the opening of John Lewis.
He said: "This scheme is so important for Exeter. It is part of our aspiration for the city centre."
Cllr Edwards said a new pool was needed to replace the aging Pyramids. The council wants a new 25m eight-lane competition pool, a 20m four-lane training pool and the option of a spa and an enhanced cafe.
"We have to consider the long-term maintenance costs of the Pyramids," he said.
"The cost of maintenance for such an old pool is not justified. We could spend £2m-plus on it and it still would be less than satisfactory.
"I want this pool to be completely part of the city.
"For example, we should consider opportunities on the public health front. This is an area that is rapidly changing and we should be able to get people referred to the new pool and facilities if they need help with health issues. We should be talking about all of that."
The council wants the scheme to be delivered in two phases.
The first would be the top corner of the site, at the junction of Paris Street and Sidwell Street and opposite John Lewis.
Mr Hassan said: "We don't want to go ahead with one part of the scheme without being confident we can deliver the whole package. That just would not work.
"And this is why we are going to keep up pressure for funding, not just on the Government but we also see a role for the Local Enterprise Partnership to help us unlock funding."
He said the scheme would provide a major jobs boost for the city and surrounding areas.
"The bid to Government states an investment of £8m would provide 1,350 jobs, including 260 in construction," he said.
"Add another £3m and that would provide another 600 jobs.
"All the city's projects would provide 3,100 jobs, including 550 jobs in construction.
"In essence we have oven ready projects providing a great opportunity for growth."