Cranbrook Plan will provide a masterplan for the future development of the town and new planning policies to ensure that it is an active and healthy new town fit for the 21st century

On 20 February 2019 members of East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee considered and unanimously agreed to recommend to full council for consultation a draft of the Cranbrook Plan Development Plan Document (DPD).

The document links to the adopted East Devon Local Plan and shows how the expansion of the town, which can grow in size to up to around 7,850 homes, will be achieved. The plan also seeks to reinvigorate the vision of the town as a zero carbon development and ensure the delivery of schools, shops, parks, open spaces, roads and services to meet the needs of residents and visitors to what will be a truly 21st century town.

It was agreed that the plan would only be reported back to members in the event that material changes are required in order to respond to consultation comments. In the event that further changes are not required then it would be submitted directly to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. Consultation would start on 11 March and run for six weeks. It is envisaged that the examination of the plan would take place in late summer/early autumn.

The plan follows a preferred approach consultation that ended in early 2018, which detailed the council’s intended approach. Since that time extensive work has been carried out, including the consideration of issues raised by the community and other consultees in response to that consultation. Consequently a number of key changes have been made to the document.

In response to the now adopted Rockbeare Neighbourhood Plan it is now proposed not to include development within the allocated green wedge to the north of Rockbeare village, which had previously been a source of concern to the communities of both Rockbeare and Cranbrook. Alternative land to the east is proposed to be brought forward for development instead.

Extensive viability work has also been carried out on the proposals and has shown that if the services and facilities envisaged for the town are to be provided then it will not be possible to deliver 25% of the homes as affordable housing as envisaged by the local plan.

It is therefore proposed that affordable housing levels be reduced to 15%, which will reduce this cost, so that the money can be used to ensure that the required schools, play areas, public transport improvements etc are provided. These would now be funded through section 106 legal agreements with the developer rather than through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) as was previously envisaged.

This is because changes in government legislation have made this possible and by adopting this approach, there will be more money to invest in facilities at the town than would otherwise be the case. It also enables the developers to provide more of these facilities directly, which is generally more efficient.

Developers operating at Cranbrook raised concerns at the meeting regarding the viability of the proposals and therefore whether the expansion of the town could be delivered as envisaged in the plan. Members were advised at the meeting that officers have engaged with the developers over the plans requirements and will continue to discuss their concerns. The discussion of viability issues needs to be evidence led and so the developers will need to submit their own evidence as part of the consultation in order to substantiate the concerns raised.

Cllr Paul Diviani, Chairman of Strategic Planning Committee, said:

The Cranbrook Plan gives clarity for all about the future expansion of the town and how we will ensure that it has all of the services and facilities it needs to be a thriving, healthy and attractive place to live and work. We are also working hard on delivering Cranbrook town centre despite the current problems facing the retail sector. The Cranbrook Plan helps to provide clarity about how the town centre will become the heart of the economic, social, cultural and civic activities in the town.

The agenda for Strategic Planning Committee is on the East Devon web site.