Cranbrook has changed drastically while no one else in Devon was looking

[Except Owl]

If you go to what will eventually be Cranbrook’s town centre, you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing has changed.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

The signs adorning the green field outlining that this will eventually be the heart of the new town looks exactly the same as they did back in 2017, with the only difference being the length of the grass.

But across the town, things are changing. The number of new homes being built continues to grow, with parts of the town unrecognisable and new estates springing up compared to this time last year. Work has begun on the next phase of the district heating network rollout.

And even the ‘town centre’ may soon be set to finally look different in the near future after the agreement as to how it will be developed and delivered was reached between East Devon District Council and the East Devon New Community Partners in January this year.

Devon Live takes a look at where Cranbrook is now and what is planned for the future.

Cranbrook currently has around 2,350 homes, equating to approximately 5,500 residents, as well a primary school and a secondary school, a railway station, a parade of local shops, the Younghayes Centre, a country park, a medical centre, and the Cranberry Farm pub, which will eventually be right at the centre of the town.

But plans set out in the East Devon Local Plan and the draft Cranbrook Plan are to grow the town to around 7,740 homes – an additional 4,170 homes from those already consented and/or built – which will give a population of just over 18,000 people.

Planning applications have been submitted for more than 1,000 of these additional houses and associated community facilities, with additional applications for some of the other identified expansion areas anticipated for submission later this year.

The expansion plans will also include two new primary schools, a SEN school, a sports hub, community centre, two new neighbourhood centres and large areas of open space, amongst other items.

The Cranbrook Plan is going through its examination by an Inspector appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State and a ruling is expected to be made before the Autumn of 2021.

WHERE WILL THE EXPANSION AND DEVELOPMENT TAKE PLACE?

Development parcels outlined in the plan are at Bluehayes, to the west of the existing development, Treasbeare, south of the existing development and south of the old A30, Cobdens, to the east of the existing development, and Grange, to the south of Cobden and south of the old A30.

Any business or other use that is permitted within these areas must be of an appropriate scale to the mixed use area and mainly serves the needs of the immediate neighbourhood and must not undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre.

The four expansion areas of Cranbrook

The four expansion areas of Cranbrook

BLUEHAYES

40 hectares of land at the Bluehayes Expansion Area is allocated for a mixed use development, which will include:

  • Around 960 new dwellings
  • Land capable of accommodating a community building and a range of business premises
  • Formal open space recreational land
  • A 420 pupil place primary school (in the event that Bluehayes is delivered before Treasbeare)
  • Formal play space with facilities for children and youth
  • Allotments totalling an area of 0.55 hectare of land

The Bluehayes expansion area will comprise a mix of housing, community and commercial uses that will provide a key route through the town linking the Cranbrook railway station with the Treasbeare expansion area, Skypark, Exeter Airport and existing development at Broadclyst Station.

TREASBEARE

62 hectares of land at the Treasbeare Expansion Area is allocated for a mixed use development, which will include:

  • Around 915 new houses
  • Land capable of accommodating a community building
  • A neighbourhood centre to provide at least 1500 square metres gross of groundfloor floor space, including shops and a range of business spaces
  • A 420 pupil place primary school (in the event that Treasbeare is built before Bluehayes)
  • Formal open space and recreational land
  • Formal play space with facilities for children and youth
  • A sports hub which delivers two senior rugby pitches, two junior rugby pitches, two football pitches, three junior football pitches, an all-weather pitch, four tennis courts, a sports pavilion, changing facilities and a club room
  • Employment land
  • Allotments totalling an area of 0.54 hectare of land.
  • A Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space
  • Land for an extension to the District Heating Energy Centre
  • Five serviced permanent pitches for gypsies and travellers

The Treasbeare expansion area will comprise a mix of housing, education, community, sport, employment and commercial uses (together with safeguarded land for the energy centre) that importantly will provide a key location for activity in the town and act as a hub for education and sporting facilities in this area. The sports hub in Treasbeare will be the main hub in Cranbrook and provide a wider range of facilities than at the Ingrams Sports hub further to the east.

Coloured circles (shape are not accurate) to represent roughly where each of the new neighbourhoods as part of the Cranbrook expansion would be built

Coloured circles (shape are not accurate) to represent roughly where each of the new neighbourhoods as part of the Cranbrook expansion would be built

COBDENS

110 hectares of land at the Cobdens Expansion Area is allocated for a mixed use development, which will include:

  • Around 1,495 new houses
  • A neighbourhood centre to provide at least 1250sq m gross of groundfloor floor space, including shops and a range of business spaces
  • A 630 pupil place primary school, 80 place early years provision and a room for community use
  • A 50 pupil place Special Educational Needs school
  • Formal open space recreational land
  • Formal play space with facilities for children and youth
  • An extension to the existing sports hub at Ingrams, through the provision of 1x youth 9v9 football pitch
  • Allotments totalling an area of 0.88 hectare of land
  • Ten serviced permanent pitches for gypsies and travellers
  • Serviced land suitable to accommodate a place of worship and parsonage
  • Serviced land (of at least 1 hectare in size) for a cemetery
  • Development of the Cobdens expansion area of Cranbrook will require the undergrounding of the 132kv high voltage power line that crosses the site as indicated in the Cranbrook Masterplan.

This Cobdens expansion area will contain around 1,490 new homes and social and community facilities. It will include provision for a neighbourhood centre and associated mixed and meanwhile uses as well as a large area of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANGS).

GRANGE

30 hectares of land at the Grange Expansion Area is allocated for a mixed use development, which will include:

  • Around 800 new houses
  • A community building
  • A neighbourhood centre to provide at least 1,600sq m gross of groundfloor floor space, including shops and a range of business spaces
  • Formal open space
  • Formal play space with facilities for children and youth
  • Allotments totalling an area of 0.47 hectares of land

The Cranbrook Plan allocates land for comprehensive development for the Grange expansion of Cranbrook. Lying south of part of the Ingrams sports pitches serving the existing town and existing development to its north western edge, the area has a good relationship with the existing town and the Cobdens development proposed to the north.

New play areas, a skate park and a sports pavilion for the Ingram sports pitches are also set to soon come to fruition after a deed of variation to the Section 106 agreement is to be finalised and signed, with Cranbrook Town Council taking on responsibility for delivering these important community assets.

A second area of allotments are also due to be provided in the east of the town, adjacent to Southbrook Lane, to complement the existing Crannaford allotments on Rush Meadow Road.

THE TOWN CENTRE

Plans for the town centre are progressing in line with the Cabinet agreement made in January 2021, with the final details of the Memorandum of Understanding outlined in that report moving toward agreement.

The ‘hard-fought deal’ with developers will bring forward multi-million pound plans which include land that could be used for a leisure centre, a hotel and retail units.

Confirmed uses as part of the proposals include a 2,500 square metres Morrisons supermarket, around 350 town centre homes, a town square, a town hall, and a children’s centre, youth centre and library in a single building.

Cranbrook from the air

Cranbrook from the air (Image: EDDC)

The next stage is for the developers to seek planning permission for the supermarket, the town square, a parade of shops and a childrens’ day nursery. Subject to permission being granted, the developers say that these facilities could be open by late 2022.

As part of the deal, the town square, the town council facility, library and youth facilities will also be delivered much sooner than after the previously required trigger point of 3,450 homes built, with deal also seeing about 350 additional new homes in the town centre area provided.

The cabinet decision means that the council will be investing heavily in Cranbrook’s future to the tune of millions of pounds as it can buy land to build areas of the town centre itself.

Councillors had twice rejected accepting the offer from the East Devon New Community Partners (EDNCp), including once just before Christmas, but after further negotiations over the holiday period, further movement to make the offer for Cranbrook more acceptable had been made, including issues around viability, restrictions on offer food stores within the town being relaxed, and increasing the size of the town square.

An East Devon District Council spokesman added: “We are having regular discussions with Henry Davidson Developments to finalise the plans for the supermarket, high street retail units, town square and children’s nursery, with the expectation being that planning applications for these facilities will be made once the Memorandum of Understanding is signed by all parties.

“We are negotiating a land value for the purchase of additional town centre land for non-residential uses and are exploring delivery options for that land.”

Ed Freeman, service lead for planning strategy and development management, said: “It is fantastic to see Cranbrook really taking shape and becoming a great place to live with such a strong community spirit. A town of this size needs to be a great place to work, socialise and enjoy leisure time, if it is to be the self-contained and sustainable town that we have always envisaged.

“In the last year, we have made great progress on these issues and we continue to work really hard to ensure that the town centre provides the social, community, retail and business spaces that the town needs and the community want. The current situation makes this very challenging and I understand the frustrations the community feel as these facilities are taking longer to deliver than many thought but I really hope that it will be worth the wait.”

And East Devon District Council is looking to continue with the roll-out of a District Heating Network for the expansion of the town and have bid for government funding toward a major project which will take waste heat from a planned Energy from Waste plant at Hill Barton and use it to provide heat and hot water to homes and buildings across the Cranbrook and Monkerton networks.

The district energy network will aim to meet a zero carbon standard, rather than rely on fabric and renewable energy measures on each home, will serve the region, and will ultimately connect 12,000 homes and 2m sqm of commercial space, and underpin the ambition to support the delivery of zero carbon development at Cranbrook.

There is a requirement for all homes to be connected to a district heating network became a key part of the planning strategy for Cranbrook and the neighbouring Skypark commercial development, with all homes tied into a contract with EON.

Together there are now over 100km of heat pipe in the ground, while the first permanent energy centre at Skypark was commissioned in 2013 and a second energy centre, currently under construction at Monkerton, is due to be commissioned later this year.