EDDC now wants Government to pay for a town centre at Cranbrook

Owl is confused. Don’t you include a town centre in initial “new town” plans – and pay for it with developer contributions? Otherwise, it isn’t a “new town”!

“The government is being urged to extend its £675m Future High Streets Fund to also help create and improve town centres in new towns.

East Devon District Council and Cranbrook Town Council have written to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Jake Berry MP, to request eligibility criteria for the Fund be changed to include new towns.

At a meeting of East Devon District Council’s cabinet earlier this month, they selected Axminster as the town to put forward to try and grab a share of a £675m fund. ..,”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/allow-new-towns-like-cranbrook-2672297

Spare a thought for Cranbrook residents – tied to E.on for EIGHTY years

Cranbrook has a “district heating” system whereby residents are supplied from only one source owned by E.on and everyone in that system is licked in to E.in as their supplier”

“… E.on has an 80-year contract to supply Cranbrook, a new town in East Devon.

Once they’ve bought into a development, residents are locked into a monopoly. They are not allowed to fit solar panels or heat source pumps and, whether or not they use their heating, remain liable for often large standing charges which include maintenance and repair of the infrastructure. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/feb/05/district-heating-fuel-bill-regulation

Now Cranbrook residents are forced to take their energy from one of the least popular suppliers:

“Eon, one of the Big Six energy suppliers, is losing customers at an ‘alarming rate’, a new report claims.

Of customers that switched provider last month, 21.65 per cent did so from Eon. On the flipside, just 7.07 per cent switched to it.

This is a net swing of 14.58 per cent, a snapshot of customer switching habits from Compare the Market shows. ..

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-6808693/Eon-losing-customers-alarming-rate-new-report-reveals-customers-voice-frustration.html

Cranbrook suffering from Exeter traffic congestion

“… Exeter has been named as the slowest city in the country in a report published by Sport England in January. In its active lifestyle pilot for Exeter and Cranbrook it states:

“Exeter and Cranbrook is an area of rapid population growth with 22,000 new homes and 12,000 new jobs forecast by 2026. Despite this growth there are some big strategic challenges, namely traffic congestion, with Exeter being the slowest moving city in the country averaging just 4.6mph during rush hour.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/exeter-roadworks-helps-countrys-slowest-2635854

Only Axminster chosen for cash for ailing High Streets

Bet it won’t only be Cranbrook with its non-High Street (currently only 5 shops for the growing town) that will be miffed but also Seaton, where the Tesco superstore has sucked the life out of its High Street!

“Axminster will be put forward as the East Devon town to try and grab a share of a £675m fund to ‘help failing High Streets’ – ahead of Cranbrook.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet on Wednesday night agreed to submit a bid for Axminster to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

The Future High Street Fund has been set up to help address the significant structural changes that are currently having an impact on towns and high streets throughout the UK. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/councillors-choose-axminster-over-cranbrook-2619176

“New homes in Devon are built so badly ‘children can remove cement with their fingernails’ “

Owl is confused. Isn’t EDDC’s Building Control department supposed to be passing or failing these new properties?

“The East Devon District Council meeting heard from Cllr Douglas Hull, who proposed the motion and said: “There are so many badly new built houses in East Devon and it is getting even worse”

The Government has been urged to prioritise a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders as there are ‘so many badly new built houses in East Devon’.

Councillors on Wednesday unanimously voted to call on the government to fulfil its February 2018 pledge to provide the much needed remedy for homeowners as a matter of the highest priority.

The East Devon District Council meeting heard from Cllr Douglas Hull, who proposed the motion and said: “There are so many badly new built houses in East Devon and it is getting even worse.”

Cllr Hull added: “We have to have houses we can be proud of the region, and we have to say that enough is enough. We need to think about the people who end up buying second rate houses.”

He added that in some of the new houses, they are built so badly that small children with can rip out the cement with their fingernails, adding: “If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.”

Cllr Eleanor Rylance added: “We have a quality control issue with a lot of the houses, and then we have a problem with people are renting from a housing association who don’t feel that they can be complain as they will lose their house.

“Cranbrook is developer led but some developers are prone to get people to buy the property before everything is done.”

No developers were named during the meeting, but it has recently been confirmed that Persimmon Homes are carrying out fire safety barrier inspections in Cranbrook after it was found that some new build homes were missing them.

Cllr Ian Hall added: “Some of the building companies in this area just don’t care, and they have no shame.”

Cllr Geoff Pook, who has been involved in the building trade in East Devon, pledged his support for the motion.

The council unanimously agreed to urge the government to fulfil its pledge to introduce a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders as soon as possible.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/new-homes-devon-built-badly-2605646

Persimmon: Cranbrook is confirmed among developments being inspected for missing fire safety barrier inspections

“Persimmon Homes is continuing to carry out fire safety barrier inspections not just in Devon but across the South West and nationally after it was found homes were missing them, it has been confirmed.

The developer has not disclosed which housing developments it is inspecting, but it is now known Cranbrook, the new town in East Devon will have 6,551 homes by 2027, as well as Hill Barton Vale in Exeter, Coverdale in Paignton and even developments in Cornwall, are among them.

The issue was exposed following a ‘ferocious’ blaze which broke out in in one of its developments, Greenacres, and the Newcourt area near Topsham. Last April a fire in Trafalgar Road off Admiral Way and Topsham Road, last April, spread into the roof spaces of two of the adjoining properties. Both homes failed subsequent fire safety barrier inspections.

In an email shared with Devon Live by a Newcourt resident, Persimmon Homes stated last month it is continuing to inspect homes. Persimmon Homes South West suggested the pass rate in Newcourt is 59 per cent, and the majority of other sites are achieving a pass rate of over 90 per cent of plots inspected. …

…However, the developer has been criticised for taking too long to carry out inspections after being made aware of the issue, as well as for sending out inspection request letters to residents in Cranbrook on unheaded paper, and confusing residents by sending out duplicated inspection letters when their homes have already been investigated.

In the email, Richard Oldroyd, regional chairman of Persimmon Homes, said: “You have asked what we are doing nationally and I can confirm that further inspections are being completed, but I am unable to provide details at this stage.

“I can confirm that as we previously advised when we met we have increased the resource on this project to ensure we are able to complete the inspections in shorter timescales.

“As you are aware we had relied upon the National House Building Council (NHBC) as part of their building control service to ensure that the cavity barriers were correctly installed. As a result of this failure in process we have instigated our own additional checking regime to provide an additional compliance inspection.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/cranbrook-confirmed-among-developments-being-2582214

Sunday Times: “Council stings residents of Cranbrook for ‘new town tax’ of £370 a year”

Owl says: they don’t mention the district heating system – which keeps residents tied to one supplier – E.on – for 80 (yes EIGHTY years)!

“Local authorities and developers are charging for supplying services in new towns that are free to other homeowners.

Residents of a new town in Devon are being charged an extra £370 a year in council tax in a practice — already being called “the new town tax” — that could spread across the country.

Cranbrook, a new town to the east of Exeter, is charging band F properties a £370 surcharge, rising to £512 for band H properties. Residents receive no more services than people elsewhere in Devon.

Mark Williams, chief executive of East Devon district council, said: “It is very likely that other towns not just in East Devon but elsewhere will have to adopt a similar approach if they wish to maintain their local assets or facilities.

“We believe that the approach adopted by Cranbrook town council is likely to be replicated across the country, especially in areas where there are areas of significant new housing.”

Cranbrook, whose population will eventually exceed 25,000 people, was managed by developers who levied an “estate rent charge” on residents.

The charge was a contribution for the upkeep of facilities such as landscaped gardens and bin collections. When the town council took over responsibility for the services, it kept most of the charge as an addition to the council tax.

Activist groups have sprung up to help residents nationally who have moved into new homes only to discover they are at the mercy of developers on service costs for green spaces or parking. Developers can levy fees because local authorities are not obliged to “adopt” new housing and provide the services.

Cathy Priestley of Homeowners Rights Network, a pressure group, has been contacted by people from 457 new estates housing 86,000 residents with fees ranging from £100 to more than £700 a year. The developers include Bovis, Linden, Persimmon, Redrow and Taylor Wimpey.

She said: “Buyers are lumbered with hidden estate taxes no matter who collects them or who is to blame for this set-up. Stop the rot! Adopt the lot!”

The prospect of permanent higher council taxes for buyers of homes on greenfield sites will be controversial. The government is supporting a housebuilding drive intended to benefit younger people and the “squeezed middle”.

Kevin Blakey, chairman of Cranbrook council, justified the council tax surcharge by saying a lot of people “simply couldn’t afford” to pay the developer’s flat-rate service charge “and the collection rates were going to be pretty awful”.

He added: “There are no council houses but 40% of the first phase of development was given over to social housing managed by housing associations. These charges [were] being applied to people in East Devon who are probably least able to afford it.”

Blakey said that even though the town council would provide services more efficiently than the developers, the charges reflected the cost of maintaining trees and green spaces, including a country park, insisted on by the district council. The residents have to meet the costs even though it is open to everyone. “Our arguments have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

Williams said: “There are no rules. The government has allowed developers to pass their obligations directly onto new home owners and the ability to remedy the situation lies with the government. This is a national issue.”

Source: Sunday Times (paywall)