Original Cranbrook sports pavilion plans ‘not fit for purpose’

Yet another part of the original plan for Cranbrook has been changed due to it being ‘simply not fit for purpose’.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet last Wednesday agreed to take control of a plot of land in the town and procure and project manage the delivery of a sports pavilion at the sports hub.

Once delivered, they will transfer the completed sports pavilion to Cranbrook Town Council.

The sports hub at Cranbrook – known as Ingram’s field – has been up and running since May 2019, five years after it was initially conceived, and this summer finally saw football and cricket played in the new East Devon town.

But the original plans for a sports pavilion were ‘not fit for purpose’, Ed Freeman, Service Lead Planning Strategy and Development Management, told the meeting.

He said: “We are trying to deliver a sports pavilion for Cranbrook that is fit for purpose. The original s106 agreement with developers agreed a basic facility, but fundamentally, this would deliver only four changing rooms and no facilities. It doesn’t meet standards of governing bodies, and simply isn’t fit for purpose for the town.

“We are working with the developers for something that is fit for the town and is self-financing, with a lettable space and a bar which can deliver income streams through those means.

“They have run into issues in the workload for them and the cost of delivery, so we are looking at ways of funding it through s106 contributions. We believe the best way is to take on the delivery of this ourselves as they have a different perception of the costs than us.”

Cllr Tom Wright asked for confirmation that the facilities would meet the requirements of the ECB and the FA and therefore would enable the clubs using them to tap into their valuable streams of revenue and funding that are available.

Confirming it would be the case, Cllr Ben Ingham, leader of the council, joked: “Be careful what you wish for though, as in ten years’ time, they may be beating Budleigh.”

Cranbrook report

A report to the meeting from James Brown, Cranbrook New Community Manager, added: “Not only would such a facility address the needs of the sports clubs/teams which could operate at the hub but it would also provide a very valuable community meeting space which is something that Cranbrook is currently severely lacking. It also has the potential to provide a facility that has its own income stream from room lettings, bar receipts to enable its future maintenance.”

The developers have said that they would invest only their original budget towards the newly enhanced pavilion and would not meet any additional costs, and have added that they are not prepared to undertake the design work and minor revisions to the building to bring it within budget.

The sports pavilion joins a long list of things with the original Cranbrook plan that have been declared not fit for purpose.

Nearly 2,000 homes in the new town are currently occupied but the town is lacking all but the most basic of facilities.

A supermarket, a town hall, a library, an auditorium, a skatepark, a youth centre, a children’s centre, retail units, and offices were all promised but have yet to be delivered.

The Cranberry Farm pub still stands alone in the town centre, with the land set to be the town centre remaining as empty as it was two years ago.

Cranbrook was initially due to be delivered through a commercially-driven model with no public control of the land.

However, East Devon District Council’s cabinet earlier this year heard that the legal agreement that plays a critical role in establishing the trigger points for the delivery of facilities has become ‘an inflexible legal document which was negotiated in a different financial era’ and some of the facilities were ‘no longer fit for purpose’.

A Strategic Delivery Board has been created to deliver critical community infrastructure in Cranbrook and the subsequent challenges for the future service delivery in the town.

Andy Wood, Projects Director, told that meeting: “We are therefore in danger of defaulting to a scenario that may not be fit for purpose or affordable over the longer term. Given the looming trigger points we are rapidly approaching the point of no return.”

The original trigger point for the provision of the children’s centre facilities – 2,000 home occupations – has been met which means the Cranbrook consortium of developers have to construct the children’s centre facilities no later than June 10, 2021.

The existing planning agreement also requires them to provide town council offices in the town centre by June 2021, and youth facilities and a library when the 3,450th home is occupied, currently expected to be in 2025.

Devon County Council’s cabinet in October though unanimously agreed to try and renegotiate the agreement so that the multi-purpose building can be built, and subject to funding, should be complete within the next two years.

There are also eventual plans for a health and wellbeing hub to serve the town, but at present, not enough homes have been built for the contributions from developers to be triggered.

Back in April, East Devon’s cabinet agreed to borrow up to £150,000 from the Enterprise Programme to enable the delivery of a temporary GP practice in Cranbrook town centre, which will enable the continued delivery of primary care services over the next five years and will also bring increased footfall to the town centre and act as a catalyst for attracting wider investment.

The GP practice in Cranbrook which operates from the Younghayes Centre is now at capacity and the temporary GP facility proposed to be built would provide sufficient space to span the gap between the current facility being at capacity and new permanent provision coming forward in line with triggers for the expansion of the town.

He said that this would happen when 3,500 new homes have been built, while currently around 2,000 are occupied.

The Devon Metro network also aims for trains with at least 15 minute frequency from Cranbrook, as well as a second station in the town, but neither have yet been delivered

A new Cranbrook Plan, detailing how will the town eventually develop to consisting of 7,750 homes with a population of around 18,000, has been submitted by East Devon District Council to the Secretary of State for examination. It includes development south of the A30, which was not in the initial plans.

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