Main concerns focus on location and extent of development, as well as proposed Gypsy and Traveller sites

A report summarising comments received in response to the 2017 Preferred Approach consultation, relating to the Cranbrook Plan Development Plan Document (DPD), was reviewed by members of East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee at a meeting last week (20 March 2018).

A total of 138 consultation responses were received from town and parish councils, councillors, specialist bodies, developers and the public. A wide range of issues were raised, including technical concerns about transport issues, such as problems providing vehicle access to some parts of the proposed expansion areas and how rail services can be improved to deliver a half hourly service into Exeter.

It was also noted that some additional land had been put forward by landowners for development through the consultation and this now had to be considered for inclusion in the plan.

People were mainly concerned about the location and extent of development to the south of the London Road, particularly where this intrudes into Rockbeare parish and the Green wedge that was designated to prevent settlement coalescence (joining up) between Cranbrook and the village.

The community at Rockbeare raised strong concerns with these proposals, which also conflict with the emerging Rockbeare Neighbourhood Plan that has recently been out to consultation. Members were advised that this development was important for bringing the London Road into the town, as well as for creating a sense of place along the road as an entrance to Cranbrook.

Development south of the London Road is also important for meeting the Local Plan requirement to allocate land for an additional 1,550 homes at Cranbrook, which would have to go elsewhere in the district if not at Cranbrook. Members asked officers to give further consideration to these proposals and their impact as part of their work in progressing the plan for Cranbrook. Members noted however that the DPD would form part of the Local Plan and could ultimately overrule the Neighbourhood Plan.

Another key issue that had caused concern to residents through the consultation was proposals for Gypsy and Traveller sites. The report acknowledged the sensitivity of these proposals, particularly the suggested site off Station Road, and a recommended action was to look to allocate an alternative site. Concerns about transit pitches being provided were also acknowledged and the report proposed to only allocate permanent pitches. This approach was also supported in feedback from the Gypsy and Traveller community.

The report highlighted a number of other issues that need to be resolved including how a wider mix of different types of housing can be brought forward in the town to ensure that a balanced community, representative of society as a whole, is brought forward. This may include larger family homes, bungalows and housing for older people, as well as providing opportunities for self-build and custom build housing.
There are also significant issues to resolve around how services and facilities are to be provided in the town in the future and how these are to be paid for, as the town has been founded on the basis of being led by the private sector and public services have limited resources to invest. It is however important that the town has everything it needs to function like any other town.

Members acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to be done and that a consultation on the plan itself would probably not now take place until the autumn. However, work continues with the developer consortium to progress the already consented parts of the town, including development of the town centre.

Cllr Phil Twiss, East Devon District Council’s Deputy Leader and Chairman of the council’s Strategic Planning Committee, said:

I am grateful to all those who commented on the Cranbrook Plan proposals. We are committed to considering their views and using them to shape our proposals. While there are many issues to resolve in bringing forward the expansion areas, this is not stopping us from working closely with the developers to bring forward proposals for the town centre as it is vital that we start to see more services and facilities provided in Cranbrook and not just housing.

The Strategic Planning Committee agenda is available at: http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2411938/200318strategicplanningcombinedagenda.pdf