hotel study - Exeter and East Devon Growth Point

Update: A planning application has been submitted to turn a grade II listed building known as Southernhay House into a ten bedroom boutique Hotel with en-suite bathrooms.

A new 160 bedroom four star hotel is to be built alongside the Flybe Training Academy and a former Hospital building Dean Clarke House in southernhay and adjoining Victorian wing is being converted into a 51 bedroom hotel.

A 102 bedroom hotel is being built on the former Saab garge site in Bonhay Road and the Hilton Group are considering building a hotel at the bottom of Western Way. 


In 2007 the Growth Point Delivery Team commissioned a study into the Exeter hotel market. The Tourism Company was appointed to carry out the study following the publication of Good Practice Guidance ‘Planning for Tourism' which acknowledged that the process of identifying suitable sites for hotels should be an integral part of the planmaking process. 

It recognised that there are different types of facility, including major hotels, (i.e. those with business/conference/banqueting facilities) large tourist hotels and budget hotels that should follow the sequential test; and motels, travel lodges for car-borne travellers where edge of centre and major urban routes would be acceptable.

In addition to the demand for hotels in the urban area, there was strong developer interest in a number of sites elsewhere in the Growth Point, associated with proposed developments such as Skypark, Exeter International Airport and Exeter Science Park and existing developments such as Sandy Park and Westpoint.  With the number of potentially competing schemes likely to be submitted, there was a recognised need for specific guidance to deliver schemes in optimum locations in order to maximise the economic benefits in line with an overall planning strategy.

The study identifed the likely long term demand for additional hotel bed spaces by main market sector and for hotel business/conference/banqueting facilities and included particular locational needs.  It was then used to develop policy guidance for inclusion in Exeter and East Devon Local Development Framework documents, and would also inform negotiations on individual proposals.


The study focused on hotels of more 10 bedrooms in the study area graded 2-star or above.

The study identified 23 hotels within a five mile radius of the city providing just over 1,000 rooms but also took into account a further seven hotels outside this ring also dependant on the Exeter market.

Five 4-star hotels fell within this group but few of the major hotel brands were represented.  Two hotels have more than 100 rooms; most are quite small in size; with two thirds less than 50 rooms.

Results of surveys indicated that hotels in Exeter are trading at high occupancy levels with an average of 77% occupancy.  This is above the UK average for provincial hotels and better than many major cities.  Several 4-star hotels had occupancies in excess of 80% and some budget hotels were achieving over 95%.

Occupancies were higher mid-week than weekends and business tourism accounted for two thirds of bed nights.  Many hotels in Exeter are full during the week and having to turn business away.

Feedback from local companies suggests that whilst they are satisfied with the quality, there is concern over availability and price.  There is strong demand for additional hotel accommodation in the city centre and also demand for more on the edge of town.  There was also a gap in quality between three and four star accommodation.

Projected demand, based on assumptions from the study, indicates a need for between 279 and 357 additional rooms by 2011, rising to 506-741 additional rooms by 2021.  In the last ten years there have been 269 additional rooms created within the study area.

Consent already exists for some 90 rooms to be added to existing hotels and these are likely to come on stream within the next year.  This figure therefore needs to be deducted from the above figure.

It is therefore predicted that there is capacity for:

       a)         an additional 225-374 3 star and 4 star rooms by 2021

       b)         an additional 191-277  2 star budget rooms by 2021

There is strong hotel developer interest in Exeter with 16 brands currently looking for sites (if all these were developed it would amount to 2,000 additional rooms).

At the time of the study, four hotel companies were closing deals of negotiating planning permission which would provide a total of 345 rooms, all within the city centre.

Client:Exeter and East Devon Growth Point Partnership

* Boutique hotel: small, independant hotel, with unique character providing high quality accommodation and levels of service


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