Written by Marc Astley.

St David’s Station ‘makes the heart sink’, Paul Street (Harlequins Shopping Centre) is the worst commercial frontage in Exeter and perhaps, just perhaps, the Sandygate Moto Services should move elsewhere and be replaced by housing and industry?

Not my words but those of Exeter City Council Chief Executive, Karime Hassan, during a presentation this morning outlining his 20-year vision for Exeter.

And well done to him for being brave enough to say those things.

In 2040, Karime’s ambition is for Exeter, among other things, to:

* Become a liveable and thriving city

* Be active and accessible

* Have a high quality build environment

* Have a network of safe routes for cycling and walking

* Be a global leader in addressing the environmental challenged to climate change and urbanisation

* Be a place recognised for its learning, research and innovation

The 20-year vision includes 12,000 homes, even in unlikely locations such as Marsh Barton and Sowton!

Karime called on architects and builders to lend their support to his aspirations and challenge ‘incremental decline’ in the city.

His message: A lot of what we have is simply not good enough but we have an opportunity to shape a better future.

That will not be without some pain and some huge shifts of opinion, and habit.

For instance, 50 per cent of all Exeter-originating work trips will have to be made on foot or by bicycle in 2040.

Karime is working closely with his colleagues in Mid Devon, Teignbridge and East Devon to develop a plan that is integrated and serves the greater Exeter area.

What he has presented, even as a vision, may not be perfect but its challenging, it’s brave and it’s ambitious and he should be applauded for that.

But here’s the rub…

Most people are going to pick fault, to moan and complain. There will be a natural default to negativity.

I say to anyone in business and who cares about Exeter, let’s get behind Karime and his talented team of officers and find ways to make his vision work.

With our input, it probably won’t look like it does now and Karime would welcome that.

Here is a chance to mould the future of our city, to make it a better place to live and work for our children and our children’s children.

The choice is simple… play your part, get involved and help to make a difference, or take cheap potshots from the sidelines.

In 20 years time, when you look back at this opportunity, what will you be most proud to have done?