Cranbrook town centre plans put forward – residents asked for views

Residents of Cranbrook are being asked to have their say over how they want the town centre to be developed.

Two competing outline schemes have been proposed for how the new town can be delivered, with East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee set to decide between the two at an upcoming meeting.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

The Cranbrook Consortium of developers have outlined plans which would see a range of town centre facilities begin to come forward in the near future, with the aim to deliver the majority of the scheme by the end of 2021.

The Cranbrook Consortium proposals for the town centre

The Cranbrook Consortium proposals for the town centre

An alternative proposal would see a masterplan covering the town centre development created which would aim to deliver a more ambitious town centre, including a leisure centre and a hotel, but would take longer before development takes place and without the guarantee of being delivered or the funding for it.

Cllr Les Bayliss, Chairman of Cranbrook Town Council and Chairman of the Council’s Planning Committee said: “The discussions which are taking place include an identified supermarket provider but if the consortium’s proposals are not taken forward, that provider would fall away and there would be a need to wait for another to come forward. The situation is finely balanced and requires a significant decision to be made.

“There is a chance now to deliver a comprehensive and holistic town centre in the near future – or wait for another number of years before anything is delivered, if at all. Over the next few days and weeks the Town Council will be sharing more details about the two proposals, and residents are invited to comment and, most importantly, to vote in our Facebook poll.”

The proposal from the consortium of developers includes:

  • A 2,500 square metres Morrisons supermarket with an additional 1,000 square metres of retail space on Tillhouse Road (around 10 to 12 shops);
  • A town square
  • A nursery
  • Around 350 town centre homes
  • Town hall with café, meeting spaces and around 15 rentable office units (including land and around one-third of the construction costs)
  • Children’s centre, youth centre and library in a single building (including land and the construction costs to the Section 106 value)
  • A skate park
  • Land for extra care facilities delivered by Devon County Council
  • Land for a “blue light” facility to house fire, police and ambulance services
  • Opportunities to provide additional retail outlets

If this proposal is accepted by the Strategic Planning Committee, a planning application is expected to be submitted very soon with construction work going ahead within the year and the supermarket, shops and town square to be delivered during 2021.

Devon County Council have already put forward outline plans for a new community building for the town, which would include a Library, Children’s Centre with Public Health Nursing provision and a Youth Centre with outdoor recreational space.

Located just off Tillhouse Road and Cedar Close, the proposed building would house four of Devon County Council’s Service Providers for the community within the one building.

The Children’s Centre and Public Health Nursing would share facilities, the Youth Centre will provide indoor recreational spaces and external recreational space including a MUGA, while the library will also include a small café.

The other approach being considered by EDDC planning officers is to develop a “supplementary planning document” (SPD) for the town centre in Cranbrook – which is essentially a masterplan covering the town centre development.

It would include very similar facilities to those listed in the consortium’s proposal above as well as some workshops and light industrial units, a hotel, and possibly a leisure centre, although the final detailed plans have not been made public.

A Cranbrook town council spokesman said: “We have today launched a consultation for residents to state their preference relating to the development of the town centre in Cranbrook and the town council has been pressing for the delivery of the town centre for some considerable time.

“In short there is a choice between delivering a range of town centre facilities now. Or an alternative approach which seeks to deliver a more ambitious town centre at some undetermined time in the future without certainty over what can be delivered, how it’s going to be funded and how long it’s going to take.

“The masterplan proposal might deliver a more ambitious town centre, but we don’t know how long it would take EDDC to develop the town centre masterplan, there is no funding for those extra items and no timescale for delivery – it may take five years, possibly ten, or even longer and there is no guarantee that anything will be delivered at all. The consortium is not obligated to provide these extra facilities and the process would rely on take-up from other potential investors.”

The consultation can be accessed via https://www.cranbrooktowncouncil.gov.uk/town-centre-2, with the town council wanting to know the views of residents before they submit their response to EDDC.