Jim Duffy was appointed by Exeter City Council to develop a masterplan to redevelop the Princesshay area into a prime retail destination for Exeter City Centre. Â At the time, Exeter was falling down the retail hierarchy due to the lack of availability of well-configured shops and needed at least one new Department Store. The street layout and most of the buildings in this area dated from the Exeter Development Plan of 1951, based on Thomas Sharpâ€™s proposals in â€œExeter Phoenixâ€, Â - following the virtual destruction of this quarter of the city during World War II.
The post war buildings followed the general intention of the plan which resulted in a new pedestrianised main street Â aligned with the Cathedral towers. However, the general quality of the buildings was poor and they were now unsuitable for modern shops.
The new plan therefore sought to re-visit the principles of the influential Sharp â€œExeter Phoenixâ€Book, and re-interpret the ideas for the 21st Century. The masterplan was well-received and led directly to the re-development of this whole area into a regionally-important retail and leisure destination. Our approach was a major influence on changing the shopping centre industry away from the focus on internalized and ubiquitous mall designs and towards an integrated approach with the existing historic urban fabric.