A special meeting of East Devon District Council’s Cabinet focused solely on Cranbrook has considered a package of investments to support the ongoing development of the district’s newest town. This included recommending that a £40m investment fund is set up to provide much-needed facilities.  Before the proposals can be taken forward, they will need to be reviewed and supported by full Council at its next meeting.

The Cranbrook Local Infrastructure Fund could be established by borrowing up to £40m from the Public Works Loan Board. The revolving infrastructure fund would ensure critical infrastructure is provided in step with new homes, for example by providing schools, at the earliest opportunity.  It would benefit residents and help to address ongoing viability challenges for the expansion of Cranbrook. The local infrastructure fund is part of a suite of proposed investments in relation to the town centre and to support the cost effective delivery of assets and services in the town, on an ongoing basis. 

This coincides with news that planning applications have been submitted for the town centre schemes to provide a supermarket, town square and a parade of shops. Search for details on planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online-applications/.  In addition, the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone is proposing funding to review options for developing ‘modular space’ and a health, wellbeing and leisure hub.  A paper on the ‘modular space’ project will be presented to East Devon’s Cabinet once the investment proposal has been finalised. 

Cllr Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon District Council, said:

It’s ten years since work started to create a new town in East Devon. So far, around 2,500 homes have been built and occupied with a population of over 5,500 people. The Cabinet meeting was an important opportunity to review progress and to consider what we need to be doing moving forward alongside our partners, to support the town as it continues to grow to an expected population of nearly 20,000 people.

The original vision for Cranbrook was as a freestanding new community which was supported by its own facilities.  This new fund will help to ensure that critical infrastructure is provided at the earliest opportunity and that the growing population is supported by improved facilities and services.  We also considered how these can be provided in a financially sustainable way over the long term.

I’m conscious that residents of the town bought in to the vison and want to see delivery on the ground, not least in relation to the town centre.  I’m confident that this package of support together with the proposals that are being brought forward by the developer consortium will lead to real progress being made. 

Past surveys of the town’s residents show that the majority of respondents moved from within Devon. People mainly moved to Cranbrook because: it is close to Exeter but still in the countryside, it was an opportunity to have a brand new home, they could afford to buy for the first time and it’s close to their place of work. Residents said they would recommend Cranbrook as a place to live, but criticised the lack of facilities and amenities, particularly a leisure centre, large supermarket and more shops.

The following facilities have so far been provided for residents:

Multi-purpose community building including GP surgery

7 retail units (with Post Office counter in the Co-op shop)

3 play areas

Country park

2 schools (1 x primary and 1 x through-school 2yrs – 16yrs)

Playing pitches

Pub

Rail station

20 minute Bus service running through the town

A Co-bike dock

Cllr Dan Ledger, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Chair of Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone, said:

Residents have long-awaited a town centre. It’s paramount to fulfil expectations and deliver the town centre.  I’m delighted to see that planning applications have been submitted for commercially-led schemes for a supermarket and southern side of the high street with town square.

It’s a momentous day for Cranbrook residents. At long last the reality of the town centre is firmly on the horizon.

Cllrs Kevin Blakey, Kim Bloxham and Sam Hawkins, East Devon District Council ward members representing Cranbrook, said:

We are pleased to note the recommendation of Cabinet to establish a £40 million investment fund to support the early delivery of essential facilities in the town’s expansion zones. This type of funding was highly successful when the first phases were being built, and enabled the road network, schools and public spaces to be delivered so that prospective residents could be confident about moving to the new town. We are also particularly pleased that the planning applications for the larger part of the town centre have, after many years of detailed discussion, been submitted to EDDC. This is a significant milestone in the brief history of Cranbrook, and we wish to thank all those whose efforts have brought us to this point.

Cllr Les Bayliss, Chairman of Cranbrook Town Council, said:

Cranbrook Town Council is very encouraged by the decisions taken by East Devon District Council’s Cabinet to support the much needed delivery of infrastructure in the town and by the fact that the District Council has responded positively to the many meetings and negotiations which have happened over recent months. To finally see the prospect of the  town centre coming forward by the submission of the first major planning applications is really positive news for the town.