What is the Exeter Development Fund?

Exeter City Futures are working with Exeter’s five largest public sector institutions (Exeter City Council, Devon County Council, RD&E Trust, University of Exeter and Exeter College) and central government to change the way we build homes, transport and energy networks. The purpose is to transform our built environment away from outdated practices and spearhead the transition of communities away from fossil fuels towards sustainable, affordable, healthy homes in 15-minute communities.

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How does it work?

It’s well known that outcomes for developments cannot be controlled by planning powers alone. Controlling the project’s finance is the only way to achieve outcomes for certain: our work aims to create a financing tool to do that.

The tool creates a financing source for the city to self-develop sustainable, carbon-free communities that people can afford to live in and, hence, change the way it delivers its built environment from the foundations up: we can’t add in carbon-free solutions effectively unless the built environment is designed to do so.

Our approach explores home/energy/transport provision as a combined service to foster a culture where residents ‘buy into their community’ rather than the traditional bricks and mortar ownership pressure under which the existing UK housing market operates.

Additionally, with no private sector shareholders, the tool’s proposed finance structure is able to recycle its surpluses into future development projects across the city that truly create sustainable communities such as active travel networks, car-free neighbourhoods, renewably powered homes and community facilities.

The Benefits for Exeter

This Exeter Development Fund is a fresh approach to city development which intends to support new communities with sustainable, high-quality, affordable and net zero housing, whilst also providing a long-term revenue stream for the public sector.

These new communities will have sustainability at their core and will incorporate transport, energy and placemaking solutions into the designs to ensure they meet residents’ needs and feed into Exeter’s carbon neutral ambition.

The Exeter Development Fund aims to secure the city’s access to long-term infrastructure funding. This is a solution that:

  • Ensures the city can sustainably fund the delivery of the infrastructure and projects that are required to meet the needs of local residents and Exeter’s net zero ambition;
  • Puts control and the outcomes of city development back into the hands of the city and its people, rather than traditionally external, profit-led private developers; and
  • Uses the financial power Exeter already has in its land, buildings and other assets to unlock the funding for its own development needs.

Current Progress & Next Steps

A large amount of work on the Exeter Development Fund concept has already taken place, with Exeter City Futures receiving £200K of Central Government funding from Local Government Association, One Public Estate and the Cabinet Office in 2019 to design and create a proof of concept.

The recently awarded £840,000 funding from the UK Government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). This latest round of funding allows the Exeter Development Fund to be properly modelled over the next 24 months through the creation of a full business case for deployment.

Read the full initial expression of interest (EOI) for the Exeter Development Fund that was submitted to central government, by clicking the link below.

Download EOI