District council chiefs have backed investing £40million to help make a long-awaited town centre for Cranbrook a reality.
The huge sum of cash will provide much-needed facilities in the new East Devon town.
It comes as plans for a Morrisons supermarket, town square and parade of shops have been submitted to the authority.
And funding is also being reviews for a ‘health, wellbeing and leisure hub’.
“It’s a momentous day for Cranbrook residents. At long last the reality of the town centre is firmly on the horizon,” said Councillor Dan Ledger, portfolio holder for strategic development.
“It’s paramount to fulfil expectations and deliver the town centre.”
A special meeting of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC’s) cabinet on Wednesday 28 July focused solely on Cranbrook.
Recommendations included setting up a £40million Cranbrook Local Infrastructure Fund which would borrow funds from the Public Works Loan Board.
This will ensure ‘critical infrastructure’ – liked schools – is provided in step with new homes at the earliest opportunity.
It is part of a ‘suite’ of proposed town centre investments.
The proposal will need to be rubber-stamped by EDDC at its next full meeting.
Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone is also 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 EDDC’s cabinet once the investment proposal has been finalised.
Cllr Ledger, also chair of the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone, added: “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.”
EDDC leader 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.”
Cllrs Kevin Blakey, Kim Bloxham and Sam Hawkins, ward members representing Cranbrook, added: “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.”
Chairman of Cranbrook Town Council chairman Les Bayliss said: “To finally see the prospect of the town centre coming forward by the submission of the first major planning applications is really positive news.”