An assessment of the existing site constraints and opportunities has been undertaken, which has informed the emerging proposals.
Arboriculture: There are a number of mature trees on site, which form part of a tree belt running around the south and west perimeter of the campus. This helps to filter views into the campus from surrounding areas and is considered important to retain within the proposals.
The existing landscape to the northwest of the site formed part of the historic parkland of the Montpellier estate. Although this has been altered over time, the remaining landscape setting is considered valuable. There is currently a limited amount of external green space within the campus that students can utilise in their breaks and the quality and hierarchy of these is considered as poor. Therefore, there is a significant opportunity to review the spatial arrangement and purpose of new green spaces as part of the proposals.
Topography: The majority of the campus is situated upon level ground, which will make accessibility and the construction of new buildings easier to achieve. However, existing landform falls steeply away to the north and west of the site, requiring careful consideration.
A large retaining wall and level change is present along St. David’s Hill which limits accessibility from these areas.
Access: Existing vehicle entrance points are limited, with the main access point from Hele Road and a secondary service access from Howell Road. It is likely that these will need to be retained to provide future servicing and emergency vehicle access. There is likely to be an opportunity to review and reduce the numbers of car parking within the campus to improve the pedestrian environment further. There may be further opportunities to review and improve pedestrian and cycle connectivity with the surrounding areas and pedestrian crossing points, but this would be subject to further studies and inputs from Devon County Council and Exeter City Council.
Heritage: There are two Grade II Listed buildings and one Locally Listed building within the campus, which contribute positively to the built character. These will be retained within the proposals. The Grade II Listed Atwill’s Almshouses are situated to the east of the campus boundary and will need to be carefully considered as part of the proposals.
Other Listed Buildings nearby include the front wall (Grade II listed), St David’s Church (Grade I), the Lodge (Grade II), the Equestrian Statue of Redvers Buller (Grade II) and the Imperial Hotel (Grade II*). (See also Landscaping and Heritage)
Utilities infrastructure: There are a significant number of underground services on the site, which will need to be avoided.