Cranbrook plans including Morrisons supermarket submitted

Long-awaited plans for the start of Cranbrook’s town centre which includes a Morrisons supermarket have been submitted.

[Owl is always bowled over by the sense of space given in “artists impressions”]

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

It is more than ten years since construction on the new town in East Devon began, and nearly and getting on for nine years since a sign saying ‘coming soon – your new town centre’ was erected.

To date, around 2,500 homes have been built and occupied at Cranbrook, with the new town growing to a population of over 5,500 people, but eventually will expand to around 8,000 new homes with around 20,000 residents.

As well as the new homes, a community building, some retail units, play areas, the country park, two schools, the pub, and the first of two railway stations have been built – but some of the town centre infrastructure needed has yet to get off the ground.

Now though, plans have been submitted for Cranbrook Town Centre, with three separate, but linked, applications for the supermarket with associated car parking and landscaping, the southern side of the High Street comprising retail and residential dwellings above; and a childcare day nursery.

The Cranbrook town centre masterplan

The Cranbrook town centre masterplan

It follows the agreement reached by councillors earlier in 2021 as to how the town centre will be developed and delivered and the demands made for officers to get on with the scheme.

The applications will be located in the parcel of land within Cranbrook Town Centre which lies immediately to the south of the “High Street” section of Tillhouse Road, bounded by Court Royal to the west and Badger Way to the south. A new road is to be built to the east to access the proposed nursery.

A statement with the application, submitted to East Devon District Council, said: “The application seeks permission for a Morrisons supermarket comprising 2,324sqm and the opening and delivery hours of 6.30am – 11pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am-4pm Sunday. The store has been designed to include 15,000 products and is aimed at providing for a weekly shop.”

It adds: “The store will front onto a 160 space car park which will provide parking for both the store and the wider town centre. Within the store itself, the company’s trademark ‘market street’ concept will be included which has put Morrisons at the forefront of grocery retailing. This minimises the extent to which Morrisons stores compete with traditional town centre comparison goods shops and maximises the complementary role that Morrisons stores play in their relationship with the retail offer in town centres.

“In the store, Morrisons Market Street will have fresh food every day, a bakery, hot and cold ‘food to go’, a fresh meat counter, a barista coffee bar; a ‘free from’ range including vegan, free from dairy, wheat and gluten, and services such as Amazon lockers, Coinstar and a photo booth.

“Customers will also be able to choose to shop online at Morrisons.com and have their groceries delivered to their home or use our Click & Collect service to pick them up from a store. The store will also generate employment opportunities for residents of Cranbrook.”

The application also includes the proposed Cranbrook Town Square, immediately to the south of Tillhouse Road, which has been located in the heart of the town centre and carefully designed to deliver a vibrant and attractive space for social gathering, markets, and outdoor events.

Retail units will front onto the square and deliver a vibrant, active frontage along the southern side of the town’s high street, the northern end of Court Royal and around the town square.

Artist impression of the proposed Cranbrook High Street

Artist impression of the proposed Cranbrook High Street

The statement adds: “The proposed development will deliver eleven retail units on the ground floor of varying sizes and a range of apartments and duplex units on the upper two floors to be built in two phases. The units fronting onto the square will be able to spill out onto the square with outdoor seating areas and canopies to provide shade in the summer months, making them attractive units for restaurants or cafes.

“Marketing has already commenced for these units and a significant amount of interest has already been received from a wide range of occupiers, including a number of local businesses wishing to be represented in the heart of Cranbrook.

“The three storey retail and duplex units have dual frontages: the modern shop fronts face onto the high street from where the retail units are serviced, whilst at the rear the two storey residential duplex apartments have their canopied entrance doors, approached through private garden areas, and linking to private courtyard parking and landscape.”

The application seeks permission for 11 retail units and 26 two bedroom dwellings comprising single storey apartments and two storey duplexes.

The third application is for a vibrant nursery providing childcare for around 100 children, which will be accessed from a new street off Tillhouse Road and include parking provision for staff and parent drop off.

It is hoped that if planning permission is granted before the end of 2021, construction work could begin and be completed in time to allow the foodstore and car park to be open by the last quarter of 2022. The first phase of the high street retail and residential and the nursery would follow and be completed in the first quarter of 2023.

Artist impression of the proposed Cranbrook Morrisons

Artist impression of the proposed Cranbrook Morrisons

The statement concludes: “The High Street south eleven retail units and 26 dwellings, the supermarket and town square, and the childcare day nursery that together comprise the three reserved matters application all therefore formed part of the outline planning application proposals and consents in terms of their use, the quantum of development and their geographical locations.

“Each of the three applications for reserved matters demonstrates the proposals are in conformity with the outline consent and policy requirements and permission should be granted.

“Timely approval of the applications would deliver a national supermarket to the heart of Cranbrook by the end of next year as part of an integrated mixed use scheme for the first phase of the town centre, including the southern side of the High Street.

“The benefits of all three applications are substantial and deliver key aspects of the vision for Cranbrook town centre, including a range of uses that are easily accessible by pedestrian, cycle and bus, and are centred around the market square, an attractive space for social gathering, markets and outdoor events”.

Artist impression of the proposed Cranbrook town square and town centre

Artist impression of the proposed Cranbrook town square and town centre

It comes as last month, East Devon District Council’s cabinet has made an in-principle agreement to borrow up to £40million to help developers build much-needed infrastructure in Cranbrook – with full council needed to rubber stamp the decision.

Council officers admitted that the loan was high risk, but said any dangers are outweighed by potential problems in not creating the infrastructure that East Devon needs to meet its housing obligations.

The money would be used as a ‘revolving’ infrastructure fund – essentially a loan that’s loaned out again. The council would lend the money to developers who might otherwise be put off by high-interest repayments if they sought loans independently.

They would then invest in improving Cranbrook’s infrastructure as the town grows – whilst saving themselves around £8 million.

Council officers believe Cranbrook needs to fund an additional primary school quickly, alongside health and wellbeing provision and, potentially, a new special educational needs school and highway upgrade works on London Road.

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