Plans for new community on edge of Cranbrook could see more than 1,000 new homes built

More than 1,000 new homes could be built on the edge of Cranbrook, if plans for a new mixed-use community are given the go ahead. 

Dan Wilkins

Proposals have been submitted to East Devon District Council, on behalf of Redrow Homes and Carden Group, for up to 1,035 homes, a neighbourhood centre, a primary school, public open space, a sports hub and employment land at Treasbeare Farm, Cranbrook. 

The site would also include 15 per cent affordable homes, which works out at up to 156 dwellings, with 39 allocated as ‘first homes’ and 52 for affordable rent. 

The 91.28ha site is just south of the existing Cranbrook expansion zone and is arable land with hedgerows, trees and field drainage ditches. 

It sites within the Cranbrook Plan area, as defined by the existing East Devon Local Plan. 

The applicant is seeking outline permission for the principle of development and access only at this stage, with a reserved matters planning application to iron out the finer details in the future. 

In the planning support statement, the applicants said there is scope for the development within the number of homes which East Devon needs to build in the Cranbrook Plan area. 

The statement said: “(It’s) identified in the adopted East Devon Local Plan as being within the Cranbrook Plan area but was not allocated to meet the initial requirements of Cranbrook. 

“However, the Local Plan requires the provision of an additional 1,550 dwellings, associated jobs, social, community and education facilities and infrastructure, which is to be provided within the Cranbrook Plan Area, but outside the allocations made within the Plan and the designated Neighbourhood Plan Areas of Rockbeare, Broadclyst and Clyst Honiton.” 

Plans for the site at this early stage include: 

  • A variety of housing types; 
  • A mixed-use neighbourhood centre 
  • Employment opportunities 
  • A landscape structure building on and enhancing existing assets
  • Allowance for pedestrian, cycle and public transport networks to be fully integrated 

The application also proposes several access changes including a new signal-controlled junction to the proposed employment area on the site, a mini-roundabout replacing the existing Younghayes Road roundabout and a ‘notional’ improvement to the Parsons Lane roundabout. There would also be a new priority T-junction onto the B3174. 

The deadline for comments is Tuesday, August 30. East Devon Disrict Council will make the final decision on the application. 

The proposal is available to view by going to  

None of the above!

Promises, promises.

Liz Truss says she will make £11bn savings from cuts in Whitehall staff in sums that don’t add up (the total bill is only £9bn); and Rishi Sunak promises to cut income tax from 20% to 16% on the back of rapid economic growth (remember the promise of our Local Enterprise Partnership, HotSW, to double economic growth in 20 years which hasn’t gone anywhere?

But it seems the electorate isn’t that impressed:

Exeter voters unimpressed with Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss

Olivier Vergnault

Voters in Devon have been left less than impressed with the choice of candidates battling it out to replace ousted Boris Johnson in 10 Downing Street. Residents in Exeter made no secret of how little respect Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss inspire in them as the two candidates prepared to have it out at a husting in the city.

As reported by The Mirror, punters in the city didn’t hold back when describing the two candidates, with many saying both of them represent a ‘poor choice for Britain’. Rachel Hartland, 72, was scathing when she said: “It’s an absolute bottom-of-the-barrel choice of people. I really feel that both of them have already served in the Cabinet and they have been found wanting. They shouldn’t be there, we should have more options.”

The art gallery owner added: “Rishi Sunak is insubstantial in his entire presence, he’s too flimsy. Liz Truss is trying to be like Margaret Thatcher but if she comes into power we will go to war with Russia.”

Terry Hibberd, 56, who works in John Lewis, said he was not keen on either of them as he didn’t feel they have the interests of the peoeple at heart. He added: “They are careerists – all politicians are careerists. Out of the two of them, it’s a really hard choice. I would probably go for the lady but only because I don’t know so much about her. I wasn’t a Boris fan but he was good for entertainment value, but it’s a serious position to be in so you can’t have a joker.”

Rebecca Nisbet, 19, a gap year student due to study biology at Newcastle University, said the whole saga with Boris Johnson and the leadershhip race had been a shambles. She added: “Rishi Sunak’s out of touch with real people because he’s so wealthy and he has seemed really quite arrogant. I don’t like Liz Truss because she’s very ‘quick fix’ – say this, say that because that will get her where she wants to be.

“People say she’s experienced but when I think of statesmen-like people in the past, there were so many good people – Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems – and now we’ve got this lot.”

Ben Laes, 40, a teacher, said he would like Rishi Sunak to win because he feels his policies make a bit more sense than Liz Truss’s, who he thinks has ‘gone for the populist approach, not necessarily backed up with the evidence’. He added: “I still think they [the Conservatives] will win the next election though, whoever wins. I don’t think Keir Starmer has got enough to sway enough voters.”

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are the ‘two worst’ candidates for leader, Young Tories say

Chloe Chaplain (Extract)

Tory MPs are “out of touch” with party membership and voter base and choosing Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss as finalists will damage the party’s chances in next election, young Conservatives have said.

A group of young activists discussed their views on the Conservative party leadership race and credentials of the candidates on offer so far and told i they feared losing the next election was inevitable.

Some said they were disappointed with final two in the leadership race because – having served in senior Cabinet positions – they are both too close to Boris Johnson, whom they warned is killing the traditional Tory vote.

And they condemned “embarrassing” public swipes Tory MPs in rival camps have been having with each other…….

South West Water fails to meet leakage reduction target. How bad is it?

South West Water wasn’t singled out in the recent press reports on the shortcomings of the water companies. The reason seems to be that, in absolute terms, its leakage rate of around 127 million litres a day is not as large as say Severn Trent or United Utilities (both more than 400 million litres a day), but its performance is bad.

Owl thinks a more useful measure for comparative purposes would be percentage loss through leakage of water supplied. Unfortunately this is not a metric easily discoverable. The latest South West Water Summary Performance Report 2021 only records losses but nothing about how much water was supplied in total.

To get an estimate of water supply Owl has had to turn to South West Water’s Fact Sheet.

This states:

“We deliver over 340 million litres of water each day through some 15,000km of water mains to 800,000 homes and 70,000 businesses in the South West. About 95% of the water we supply is returned to us for treatment and disposal. We do this through some 14,995km of sewers, around 800 sewage pumping stations and over 600 treatment works, many of which serve a population of less than 1,000 people.”

How should we interpret this delivery figure?

Is this the volume of water that leaves the treatment plants and enters the delivery system?

Or is it the water estimated to have been delivered to customers’ taps after leakage? 

I.e. Is it the measure of input or output?

The Performance Report records that for 2020/21 leakage average was 126.8 million litres a day against a target of 120.5 for which South West Water received a penalty of £3.875m.

The 127 million litres per day leakage represents 37% of the total under the first interpretation and 27% of the (340+127=467) million litres a day under the second. 

Either way the leakage is colossal. Who is to blame?

What they say is:

“The network was challenged throughout the year with increased demand due to changes in customer behaviour during the multiple lockdown periods and a higher than normal regional population given the significant proportion of second home ownership in our region.

As a result, increased pumping has been required to more rural areas. There was a record number of bursts in early 2021 and our teams responded well to this increase, however as a consequence of these factors, leakage rose resulting in our three year average leakage target not being met.”

“Unfortunately, we are below the industry average for our leakage performance this year.

Hose ban looms as water continues to leak. Bill to keep water flowing in coming decades could reach £40bn.

Underperforming water utilities have been in the news in the past week.

Owl reviews a number of news articles, and in a separate post, looks at South West Water’s performance.

Up to £40bn to plug leaks in coming decades


A national hosepipe ban should be implemented as a national priority along with compulsory water metering across the UK by the end of the decade.

That is the key message that infrastructure advisers have given the government as the nation braces itself for a drought that is threatening major disruption to the nation. Failure to act now would leave Britain facing a future of queueing for emergency bottled water “from the back of lorries”.

The government was warned four years ago by the National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) that considerable new investment would have to be made in the nation’s water supply equipment by the 2030s. Although some improvements have been made by water firms, nearly 3billion litres of water is still lost every day.

Plugging these leaks will require an investment of around £20bn, Sir John Armitt, chair of the committee, told the Observer this weekend. Failure to invest now will mean, he added, that more than twice as much will have to be spent on distributing bottled water to UK residents by lorry as increasingly frequent droughts grip the nation.

“You have to pay for it, one way or another,” he said. “That could be investing in new reservoirs or moving water around the country, as well as stopping leaks.” Water metering is considered by the industry as the best tool for cutting water use – the UK has the highest usage in Europe. It is estimated that water meters have been installed in only about half of households in England and Wales, but these customers use 33 litres a day less than the national average, of 141 litres a day.

Who are the big leakers?


The country’s nine water companies are leaking almost 2.4 billion litres of water every day while paying their chief executives large bonuses…

In the past two years the chief executives of England’s water companies were paid a total of £24.3 million.

Dame Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the public accounts committee (PAC), said: “It sticks in the craw that the chief executives are earning telephone-number salaries while their businesses are leaking billions of litres of water.”

Thames Water, England’s largest water company, was the biggest culprit, leaking 605 million litres of water a day, based on a three-year average. The company, which serves areas including Greater London, the Thames Valley, Surrey and Gloucestershire, said it was leaking 24 per cent of its supply. Sarah Bentley, its chief executive, received £3.2 million in the past two years.

Severn Trent Water, which serves the Midlands, leaked the second most, with a three-year average of 446 million litres a day. Liv Garfield, its chief executive, has earned almost £7 million since 2020, making her the highest-paid executive in England’s water industry.

United Utilities, which serves northwest England, leaked the third highest amount, with 413 million litres of water a day. Steve Mogford, its chief executive, earned almost £3.2 million in the past year, including almost £2.2 million in bonuses and incentives.

In 2020 the PAC published a report that warned Britain could run out of drinking water by 2040 if more were not done to protect resources. Hillier told The Times: “This amount of leakage is unacceptable. We know it does not happen overnight but these companies should be doing more.”

According to the PAC report, the industry regulator Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have “taken their eye off the ball” on reducing water loss and repairing leaks, with “two decades of inaction” responsible for the impending crisis.

The committee said it remained unconvinced that enough would be done to address the problem. Ofwat said: “We have really pushed companies to cut leakage and set a target of 16 per cent reduction for all companies. While progress is being made, companies have to go further.”

Water UK, which represents the industry, said reducing leakage was a huge challenge: “Water companies are committed to doing everything they can to radically reduce leakage over the coming years and decades with plans in place to halve leakage by 2050.”

Thames Water declined to comment. Severn Trent said: “We’re committed to reducing leakage by 15 per cent by 2025 — the biggest reduction ever in a five-year period — and we’re making good progress.”

United Utilities said: “We have the lowest ever levels of leakage in the northwest and have met our target for the 16th year running. Between 2020 and 2025 we are reducing leakage by a further 15 per cent.”

Failing to meet targets, including South West Water


A quarter of water companies in England and Wales have failed to meet targets for reducing wasteful mains leakage as millions of Britons face a hosepipe ban amid the driest conditions for decades.

The latest findings by Ofwat, the regulator, show that, while leakage has come down by 11 per cent in five years, only three quarters of water companies are meeting their individual leakage targets, which were brought in because a fifth of mains water was being lost daily.

[Including South West Water which admits “we are below the industry average for our leakage performance this year” – see separate post on how bad it is – Owl]

The watchdog insisted that “progress has been made” on leaks but admitted “there is more that can be done”.

The underperforming utilities companies will be named later in the year and could be penalised financially. David Black, Ofwat’s chief executive, said: “We welcome the improvements companies have made in reducing leakage and it’s encouraging to see things heading in the right direction…

Debt-ridden water giants at risk from rate rises

Heavily indebted water utilities are at greater risk of collapse as interest rates rise, the industry regulator has warned….

“As interest rates rise … we tend to see the cost of poor investment grade debt, or poor-quality debt, go up faster than the cost of higher-rated debt,” Black said. “So water companies that are in a poor financial position will experience escalating costs of debt faster than better-financed companies.”

Water companies have attracted widespread criticism for loading up on debt while paying large dividends to their shareholders — many of them based overseas — but failing to get on top of leaks or sewage spills. Last week, Ofwat revealed plans to limit dividend payouts for companies with the lowest credit ratings.

Black said concern over the burden of higher rates was one factor in introducing the tighter controls: “We’re always concerned about the risk of a company failing and costs coming back onto customers.

“We want to make sure that the focus of company boards is on running these businesses well, and not on clever financing structures.”

His warnings raise the prospect of a similar failure in the water industry to that of Bulb Energy, the supplier that collapsed last November. Bulb went through a “special administration”, where the taxpayer provides funding to keep it going before a buyer is found. If a water company failed, it would also go through a similar process. Bulb’s collapse is expected to cost the taxpayer as much as £3 billion.

Net debt in the water sector topped £56 billion last year, according to Ofwat. One of the most indebted firms, Thames Water, took steps to shore up its finances last month with the injection of £1.5 billion of fresh equity from shareholders…

Debt written off in 1989

[When Margaret Thatcher sold off the water industry in 1989, the government wrote off all its debts. Since then, the nine privatised companies in England have run up debts of nearly £52 billion. Meanwhile, they have paid shareholders a total of £61.8 billion in dividends, an average of £2 billion a year.]

Tory dogma “working for us” – Owl