Gypsies and Travellers document will continue to be developed to ensure provision across all of East Devon
In his final report on the East Devon Local Plan, published on Monday 18 January 2016, Inspector Anthony Thickett has acknowledged the importance of Cranbrook in the provision of new houses and jobs in East Devon. The contribution that Cranbrook will make towards meeting the revised housing target of 17,100 new homes over the 18 year plan (950 dwellings per year from 2013-2031) is significant and will provide an opportunity for a sustainable settlement combining housing, employment, schools, shops, green spaces and other facilities.
Already around 1,200 new homes have been completed in Cranbrook and, assuming these delivery rates continue, then over the next five years Cranbrook will deliver up to 40% of the five year land supply, which the inspector believes is achievable. The job growth agenda for the District generates this need for ensuring that there is sufficient new housing to meet the requirements of a projected increasing workforce.
The inspector clearly recognises the importance of Cranbrook and the logic for further development at the new town. Factors that will need to be taken into account and to be aware of include:
• ensuring housing delivery (including 25% affordable housing)
• impacts on non-delivery
• overall scale of the development
• links to the Cranbrook Plan
The Cranbrook Plan will be also become a Development Plan Document (DPD, which is designed to help deliver targets) and it is currently in production. An issues and options document that is proposed for public consultation is scheduled to be presented to members in the Spring of 2016.
Gypsy and Traveller provision
The inspector has noted the need for a further 37 gypsy and traveller pitches up to 2034 in East Devon, as well as three for travelling showpeople. This includes a need for 22 pitches to be provided between 2014 and 2019. He also endorses the principle of up to 30 pitches being provided at Cranbrook, however he does point out that there is nothing in the modified policy to suggest that all 30 pitches be in the same place and doesn’t see any reason why the sites cannot be developed in a satisfactorily integrated way with other planned development in Cranbrook. He has also emphasised the importance of work on the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document (DPD) – work which is ongoing.
The latest phase of the gypsy DPD – a formal call for more sites – was concluded at the end of 2015. Work now needs to be carried out to evaluate the sites that have come forward, and the council will also be examining the potential to expand existing sites.
Recommendations for future allocations and public consultation will be made over the coming months. The council intends to stay true to its word and will develop a gypsy and traveller site strategy for East Devon as a whole, but which will include some provision at Cranbrook. The full scale of provision at Cranbrook will not, however, be known until the council has had to the opportunity to evaluate all the options.
Importance of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces (SANGS)
Keeping development clear of the important wildlife sites in East Devon is a priority and it is critical that the council provides alternative green spaces to attract people away from the specially protected areas, to reduce the adverse impact on them. So considerable effort and preparation work will be undertaken to ensure that these are delivered in the West End and specifically Cranbrook, as the town expands.
Five year land supply
Based on the evidence that the council has provided, the Inspector considers that the council has demonstrated that the district has a five-year housing land supply and that this position would improve on adoption of the Local Plan when allocated sites that do not already have permission can be counted. However, he highlighted the council’s reliance on large strategic sites, in particular, providing a sufficient supply of new housing and this is an area that will require careful monitoring.
The inspector is satisfied that the Economic Strategy for Cranbrook produced by the Council in 2015 provides the evidence to support the proposed increase in employment land from 15 hectares to up to 18.4 hectares and he has endorsed the council’s strategy for employment at Cranbrook. The majority of employment land is at the West End, including the 18.4 hectares at Cranbrook, which will add to the 65 hectares of employment land already committed at the Science Park and Skypark and will also avoid the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said:
“The inspector has confirmed that he is happy with the strategy for Cranbrook and the scale of employment and housing uses proposed, as well as the proposed Gypsy and Traveller provision. This is a significant moment for this emerging new town and will enable us to help maintain the incredible energy and momentum that is already keeping this landmark community at the forefront of development.
“The Cranbrook masterplan, which is currently in production, will put some meat on the bones of these policies and will provide a strong vision and guide to future development at Cranbrook to ensure that it becomes an attractive, vibrant and sustainable modern town.”