Work is to begin on a much-awaited town centre for Cranbrook, with the completion of a supermarket and nursery by summer 2023.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) has announced it has approved funding of up to £5.5million ‘for the acquisition’ of town centre land in Cranbrook, as well as approving three planning applications for a supermarket, high street shops with apartments above, a town square and a children’s day nursery.
Work on the supermarket and nursery is due to be completed by summer next year, followed ‘soon after’ by the high street shops, apartments, town square and children’s day nursery.
Councillor Dan Ledger,EDDC portfolio holder for strategic development and chair of Cranbrook strategic delivery board, said: “This is a monumental moment for the town where the ‘coming soon’ notion actually becomes a reality over the next few months.
“Through partnership working across all levels of local authority and with the consortium of developers, Cranbrook will now finally have its much-needed centre.
“I couldn’t be happier for the residents.”
On hearing the announcement, Cllrs Kevin Blakey, Kim Bloxham and Sam Hawkins, EDDC ward members representing Cranbrook, issued a joint statement.
They said: “We are delighted that the planning applications have finally been approved after a long and sometimes tortuous process, and that the construction work can begin.
“The new buildings will at last give Cranbrook a heart with many of the shopping, service and social facilities that we have all been waiting for, and will act as the focal point around which the rest of the town centre will grow and develop in the coming years.
“Our thanks go to all those who have worked so hard to overcome the obstacles in the way of delivering what will be a welcoming centre for Cranbrook and its surrounding villages and hamlets. A little celebration is in order.”
Cllr Les Bayliss, Cranbrook Town Council chairman said: “This long-awaited news will undoubtedly bring significant benefits to the community.
“For example, being able to shop locally I believe will have a positive impact on the people that live in and around Cranbrook. Not to mention the benefits locally to the environment, economy and the potential of local employment opportunities”.
The £5.5m investment is funded by the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone from borrowing against future ring-fenced business rate income.
EDDC said securing the land would enable the new town centre to ‘grow and develop over time’, including providing workspace to meet the needs of a growing population.
This is in addition to the current plans to provide space for shops and community facilities – including a children’s centre, youth centre, library, town council offices, health and wellbeing hub, a leisure centre and a skatepark, EDDC said.
And the council has agreed the process for delivering the £40m Cranbrook Local Infrastructure Fund.
EDDC said the fund would ensure ‘critical infrastructure’, such as schools and transport improvements, could be delivered in step with new homes as the town expands to a population of around 20,000 people.
Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said: “I’m delighted that Devon County Council’s Cabinet has accepted the Cranbrook New Community Partners offer of a £3 million phased contribution and a 0.4ha parcel of land in the town centre to enable the delivery of a new community building which will deliver Devon County Council services to the residents of Cranbrook.
“Cranbrook is rapidly expanding and I have no doubt it will grow to become one of Devon’s most important towns.
“Through a productive partnership with other councils, developers and community representatives we are laying the groundwork for that future and are we are working hard to achieve a consensus for the benefit of its community.”
Scott Davidson, Managing Director of developers HDD, said: “We are delighted that the planning consents have been issued for the new town centre at Cranbrook. This now allows us to progress to the construction phase so that much-needed facilities can be delivered for Cranbrook residents.”
A spokesperson for the Cranbrook Consortium of developers said: “The approval of plans for the town centre at Cranbrook is a hugely significant step for this growing community.
“Residents at Cranbrook already benefit from shops, a cafe, healthcare and education. The town centre will bring even more vibrancy to the neighbourhood and we are very happy that work can now begin.”
Agreement on the details underpinning the much-needed facilities for the town was coordinated by the Cranbrook Strategic Delivery Board.
The board is made up of a partnership of councillors from Cranbrook Town Council, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council who helped agree a way forward with the developer consortium (Cranbrook New Community partners in conjunction with Henry Davidson Developments).