East Devon council makes funding pledge over Cranbrook town centre

East Devon councillors have backed making funding available to support the building of a long-awaited town centre in Cranbrook.

Daniel Clark eastdevonnews.co.uk 

District authority chiefs agreed to persist with work on a draft masterplan  – and continue to negotiate with a consortium of developers over their vision.

The masterplan approach seeks to use the East Devon New Community Partners (EDNCp)  as a starting point, incorporating plans for a library, youth centre, children’s centre and a hub for ‘blue light’ services.

But the proposal would also make the remainder of town centre land available for a mix of commercial, community uses and a leisure centre rather than for housing.

The location of an extra care facility would be changed, while provision may be made for a hotel.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet agreed on Wednesday that funding ‘in principle’ be made available to support the pro-active delivery of the town centre.

This would be based on the draft masterplan, although a detailed business plan to understand the streams of funding and the level required would need to come back for final approval.

Councillor Kevin Blakey, who represents the Cranbrook ward, said a figure in the ‘tens of millions of pounds’ would be needed.

Cllr John Loudoun, portfolio holder for policy co-ordination and regional engagement, added: “It is important that the residents of Cranbrook understand the administration’s intent and desire to try and finally deliver for them a town centre and a town centre that does actually work for them and not just the developers.

“This is a significant commitment to the residents and we want to sort this out once and for all for the better good.”

A draft supplementary planning document (SPD) and  delivery plan will now be presented to the authority’s Strategic Planning Committee in December.

Councillors on the committee were last month urged to by town representatives to accept the EDNCp proposals.

The developers’ offer would see work take place sooner, but would be less ambitious than a proposed masterplan council officers are in favour of.

But the calls were rejected, with members instead voting to continue negotiations with the EDNCp to improve its offer, and that work should continue on an SPD.