The wait for Cranbrook town centre continues – plan promised for the summer is delayed

Cranbrook town centre plans – promised by the district council to be available by the end of summer 2024 – have been delayed until the middle of the autumn.

The sudden general election is being blamed in part for delaying a masterplan for Cranbrook’s town centre, writes local democracy reporter Bradley Gerrard.

The document, which will investigate where services in the town should go and how they will be designed and funded, won’t now be published until October.

A report to the Cranbrook Placemaking Group this week said the election is one of several factors contributing to the delay.

“The combined impacts of the time taken to establish stakeholder requirements, the calling of a general election and reinvigorated work on [a modular/container building]Cranbox, means that the council is no longer able to meet the deadlines originally set for the production of the masterplan document,” it said.

It is now expected to go to East Devon District Council’s strategic planning committee on Thursday 3 October.”

Plans for Cranbrook town centre. Image: EDDC

Plans for Cranbrook town centre. Image: EDDC

The site of Cranbrook town centre. Image: Still Imaging

The site of Cranbrook town centre. Image: Still Imaging

Officers at East Devon believe that uncertainty means the level of detail may be less than previously hoped for.

“Although some high-level principles for the form and feel of the town centre can still be achieved, it is unlikely to be feasible to articulate how the built form is going to locate all the main uses because of the remaining uncertainty over service provision,” it said.

Officers added the document needs to consider views expressed by the community as part of a consultation last year and discuss how those can be achieved.

In a separate document that looks at how different services and facilities will be implemented, the Cranbox scheme has been given an ‘amber’ risk rating because a feasibility study “showed significant increased costs which will affect overall viability”.

It added the council had asked architects to design a “viable scheme”.

The idea behind Cranbox, which would be modular in style and potentially constructed using shipping containers, is to provide a home for commercial and community spaces more quickly while other areas of the town centre are being developed.

Part of the delay is also because Devon County Council no longer wants to own and run a community building at Cranbrook for its own services.

“To that end, a discussion with Cranbrook Town Council has begun in order to explore the opportunity for the co-location of services,” the report said.

“They are also willing to discuss the option of having one large health and wellbeing hub building where all facilities are co-located.

“This latter option is something to be explored but bringing together so many organisations is likely to result in further delay in delivery.”

Cranbrook

This sign remained in place for years – marking the spot of Cranbrook town centre.

‘Get on with it’ – East Devon announces the blueprint for Cranbrook town centre will be ready by the summer after more than 10 years of waiting