Construction of a long-awaited town centre for Cranbrook – which will boast a Morrisons supermarket, shops, square and children’s nursery – has begun today.
The ‘major milestone’ has been announced along with news that a further four acres of land will be bought to provide a leisure centre and GP surgery.
A library, youth centre, skate park and town halls are also on the cards.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) says the facilities will ‘serve the population of up to 20,000 people and other communities nearby’.
A consortium of developers has started work on the town centre, which will also feature apartments above the high street shops.
The supermarket and children’s day nursery are due to be completed in 2023. Shops and apartments are set to be finished in 2024.
EDDC says that, in a separate venture, it is in the process of ‘acquiring’ four acres of land.
This is to ‘ensure that the town centre can accommodate the types of community facilities that the population will need in the future’.
A ‘health and wellbeing hub’ – including a GP surgery – and leisure centre are on the cards for the potential plot.
Devon County Council (DCC) is also continuing to work on a new community building combining a library,children’s and youth centres.
The ‘vibrant’ town centre will also feature a town hall, extra care housing and a skate park.
Cllrs Kevin Blakey, Kim Bloxham and Sam Hawkins, district council ward members for Cranbrook, said in a joint statement: “This is a big moment in the story of Cranbrook.
“A great many people have worked long and hard to draw together all the many threads to the legal agreements that are now complete, and our thanks go to them all.
“We can now look forward to the land being a hive of activity as the physical creation of our much-anticipated town centre takes shape.”
Cranbrook Town Council chairman Les Bayliss said: “Following considerable time and discussions, at last work is to begin on developing the town centre.
Cllr Bayliss added: “The community’s aspirations are beginning to be realised with the start of the Morrisons supermarket.
“It is a long-awaited milestone in the development of Cranbrook.”
Cllr Rufus Gilbert, DCC cabinet member for economic recovery and skills, added: “Cranbrook is growing, and I’m in no doubt that it’ll become one of Devon’s most important towns.”
EDDC leader and chair of the Cranbrook Strategic Delivery Board Councillor Paul Arnott said: “The people of Cranbrook have been incredibly patient and we’re delighted to learn that the town centre will actually start to become a reality.”