Expansion of Cranbrook not going down well with – Cranbrook

“A total of 138 consultation responses were received from town and parish councils, councillors, specialist bodies, developers and the public. A wide range of issues were raised, including technical concerns about transport issues, such as problems providing vehicle access to some parts of the proposed expansion areas and how rail services can be improved to deliver a half hourly service into Exeter.

It was also noted that some additional land had been put forward by landowners for development through the consultation and this now had to be considered for inclusion in the plan.

… People were mainly concerned about the location and extent of development to the south of the London Road, particularly where this intrudes into Rockbeare parish and the Green wedge that was designated to prevent settlement coalescence (joining up) between Cranbrook and the village.

The community at Rockbeare raised strong concerns with these proposals, which also conflict with the emerging Rockbeare Neighbourhood Plan that has recently been out to consultation. Members were advised that this development was important for bringing the London Road into the town, as well as for creating a sense of place along the road as an entrance to Cranbrook….”

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/news/2018/03/councillors-review-report-on-cranbrook-plan-development-plan-document-dpd/

Risk of green wedge between Cranbrook and Rockbeare being swallowed up despite Local Plan rules

“Cllr Rob Longhurst said: “The main thing I would be concerned with is the idea that a green wedge could be disposed of if it doesn’t fit. It was put there for a reason after long debate and I think it is wrong to suddenly discard it as being inconvenient.”

Cllr Mark Williamson said: “It is so clear in the strategy of the Local Plan that it only takes up a single sentence, saying within green wedges, development will not be permitted. There are six green wedges in the Local Plan so if this was allowed then there will be sleepless nights around the district, where the other green wedges are, particularly around Seaton and Colyton.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/concerns-raised-building-green-wedges-1400152

EDDC to borrow a minimum of £3.4 million and up to £8 million to “improve” Greater Exeter enterprise zone

Owl says: it seems western East Devon/Greater Exeter is to thrive at the expense of eastern East Devon; more of everything for Greater Exeter, less of everything for Lesser East Devon.

“Improved bus services, a new park-and-change car park, and improvements to Exeter Airport are all on the cards.

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve borrowing of nearly £3.5m to help accelerate the projects in the Enterprise Zone.

The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone consists of the Exeter Science Park, the Skypark, the Exeter Airport Business Park and Cranbrook Town Centre.

A report to the cabinet is seeking approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The report, that goes to the Cabinet on Wednesday, April 4, written by Naomi Harnett, Enterprise Zone Programme Manager, says: “While not yet fully developed and appraised it is considered that these projects are also likely to make a substantial contribution to the achievement of the objectives of the Enterprise Zone.

“The Enterprise Zone designation is a powerful means of accelerating the delivery of new commercial space and jobs in the four sites in the West End of the District.

“The more that can be done to accelerate the delivery of new commercial space the greater the impact there will be both in terms of business rate income and wider economic benefit. Work has focused on developing projects that help to overcome identified barriers to delivery and/or have a catalytic impact in terms of accelerating the pace of new commercial development.

“Approval is sought for the funding of an initial set of projects that are considered to contribute substantially to meeting the objectives for the EZ.”

The report seeks approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The four proposals that the council is being asked to invest in are:

1 – An enhanced frequency bus service (30 minute at peak) connecting Exeter to the Enterprise Zone area. This includes connections via the key transport nodes of Exeter St Davids and Exeter Airport. The service is due to commence at around 5am and run through to 11pm, with the intention that this fits with key shift patterns and flight times. Some of the services will also continue to Woodbury and Exmouth. The service builds on an existing service tendered by Devon County Council and the intention is to subsidise this for an initial period of 3 years starting from Summer 2018. The scheme would cost £536,250 and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

2 – A 309 space park-and-change car park located at the Exeter Science Park, alongside bike lockers and an e-bike docking station. The facility will both support the development of the Science Park and contribute to the wider transport strategy for the area. It is anticipated that the works will complete during summer 2019 and be delivered by Devon County Council, and would cost £2.4m

3 – An upgrade to the Exeter Airport Instrument Landing System. The current system installed in 1997 has now reached the point where there is no further operational tolerance to accommodate additional nearby development. Subsequently this is a significant barrier to development coming forward particularly at both Skypark and the Airport Business Park extension. The scheme would be delivered by Exeter Airport and cost £1.4m

4 – An upgrade to Long Lane, the road that runs immediately to the south of the airport. It is the principle means of access to the Airport Business Park extension and is sub-standard to the point where no further development can proceed until it is improved and is therefore a significant barrier to one of the four EZ sites coming forward. An initial sum of up to £100,000 is sought in order to complete the scheme design and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

The investment in the enhanced bus service and park and change facility would be in the form of a grant, and a forward funding mechanism is proposed to secure the timely upgrading of the Instrument Landing Systems at the Airport. The costs of this can then be recouped as development proceeds.

The report also request that the cabinet agrees the principle of borrowing up to £8m against ringfenced business rate income to fund the delivery of projects and makes this recommendation to Council

Further papers setting out specific investment proposals in relation Cranbrook town centre and Exeter Airport would come to the Cabinet at a later date.

Help-to-buy: now the crunch comes (for some)

Help-to-buy gave interest-free loans of 20% of new house value (40% in London) for 5 years. After that, loan repayment (currently 1.75%) kicks in. That 20% or 40% of home value is still owned by the government and any increase in the home’s value results in increased charges at the year 5 point. Early adopters of this scheme are now reaching this 5 year point. The government’s loan repayments will be in addition to mortgage payments and will rise with the cost of living (and at the same time many mortgage rates may rise if or when the bank rate increases).

Some buyers who have seen big gains in property value may be able to trade up and pay off the loan, but anyone who has seen static value or even a fall (many new houses were over-priced) will be in trouble.

Those whose homes have not increased in value face “a ticking time bomb” according to the think-tank Resolution Foundation.

Wonder how Cranbrook residents who took advantage of the scheme feel now?

And was this consequence foreseen by government or borrowers?

Cranbrook will grow to 8,000 homes over 15 years

Owl says: and still it has no town centre and developers refuse to fund one!

“Feedback on how Devon’s newest town, Cranbrook, should grow and develop over the next 15 years, goes before councillors next week.

The Cranbrook Plan: Preferred Approach’ document sets out how the growth of the town up to around 8,000 households over the next 15 years will be achieved.

A community consultation ran for eight weeks from mid-November last year to early January and it gave residents of Cranbrook and its neighbouring communities the opportunity to comment on the proposals for the future of the town contained within the document ‘Cranbrook Plan: Preferred Approach’.

In addition to identifying land for new houses, the document also identified land for sport and community, economy and enterprise, schools, allotments and Gypsy and Travellers pitches. …

Outline planning permission for the first 2,900 homes at Cranbrook was issued in October 2010 followed shortly by the reserved matters for the first 1,100 homes in April 2011. Today there are approximately 1,700 households living at Cranbrook, equivalent to a population of around 4,000 people, but the Local Plan anticipates Cranbrook comprising approximately 7,850 new homes by 2031. This equates to a population of around 20,000 people meaning that Cranbrook will have quickly expanded to become the second largest town in the District.

The consultation revealed that there is a concern over relationship with properties at Broadclyst Station, who are keen to retain a separate identity, that the East Devon New Community partners say that the Treasbeare area could accommodate a minimum of 1,000 dwellings as opposed to the 800-950 stated in the masterplan, and that there should be a school in both of the Bluehayes and the Treasbeare area of Cranbrook..

On transport issues, the responses reveal that the delivery of a half-hourly rail service is a key ambition of the plan in order to encourage use of rail travel as an alternative to the car, but that despite the wishes of residents for the old A30, the B3174 London Road to remain as a bypass to developed, it is scheduled to be downgraded from its current status and to become an integral part of the town. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/council-discuss-how-devon-town-1328118

MPs profess shock at £817 million housing underspend

Owl says: Let’s say each affordable home cost a very generous £200,000 – that’s just over 4,000 affordable homes! If we went down the prefabricated route and homes were £100,000 that’s just over 8,000. Cranbrook currently has about 3,500 homes. Scandalous.

“MPs are demanding an urgent explanation from ministers after being told that £817m allocated for desperately needed affordable housing and other projects in cash-strapped local authorities has been returned to the Treasury unspent.

The surrender of the unused cash has astonished members of the cross-party housing, communities and local government select committee at a time when Theresa May has insisted housebuilding is a top priority and when many local authorities are becoming mired in ever deeper financial crises.

On Monday the committee, which discovered the underspend for 2017-18, will interrogate housing minister Dominic Raab and homelessness minister Heather Wheeler on the issue, before Tuesday’s spring statement by the chancellor, Philip Hammond. He is under heavy pressure from MPs, and the Tory-controlled Local Government Association, to signal extra help for the local authority sector, which has seen budget cuts of around 50% since 2010.

The acting chair of the committee, the Tory MP Bob Blackman, said: “We will be wanting to know why this very large sum has not been spent at a time of great strain on local authority budgets, and why it was not channelled to other spending projects. It does not help those of us who argue that more should be given to local authorities if the chancellor knows money he gave last time has not even been spent.” MPs believe they can argue for more for local authorities because Hammond will announce that unexpectedly high tax receipts have left the Treasury with a windfall of between £7bn and £10bn.

Speaking on Saturday night, the chancellor said the government had gone a long way to put the public finances back in order and was now able to pump more into services, including housing: “We’re making good progress on building the homes this country needs with, last year, a 20-year record high for housebuilding. This is how we build an economy that works for everyone.”

But Helen Hayes MP, a Labour member of the select committee, said it was “astonishing” that money was lying unspent when the number of social homes built by local authorities from government grants had dropped dramatically since 2010. “This is the biggest issue for families up and down the country, including in my Dulwich and West Norwood constituency,” she said. “It is simply astonishing and unacceptable that there is so little urgency being shown.”

For the last 30 years, councils have cut back council housebuilding in the face of severe budget cuts. Local authorities have also been discouraged from building by the government’s “right to buy” scheme, which allows tenants to buy council properties at a 40% discount.

Hundreds of councils have set up their own property development companies to build homes and get around the rules. But progress has been slow, in part because of the threat from ministers that they might extend the right to buy to the new council-owned companies.

Shadow housing minister John Healey said housing and local government secretary Sajid Javid’s department had also failed to spend £220m of funding allocated to affordable housing last year. “Sajid Javid needs to explain why he is selling families short by surrendering much-needed cash for new homes,” he said.“If the secretary of state can’t defend his department’s budget from the Treasury he should give the job to someone who can.”

A housing ministry spokesman said: “We are investing £9bn in affordable homes, including £2bn to help councils and housing associations build social rent homes where they are most needed.

“All of the affordable housing underspend from 2016-17, including £65m returned by the Greater London Authority, has been made available to spend on similar schemes.”

Last week, the National Audit Office estimated that 10% of unitary authorities and county councils have less than three years’ reserves left if they continue to deploy them at current rates, leaving them vulnerable to potential insolvency.

The Tory chair of the health and social care select committee, Sarah Wollaston, said action was needed urgently: “NHS public health and social care need a boost now, but also a long-term plan to provide the funding they need and a clear plan to set out how the money will be raised.”

Labour will counter Hammond’s claim that the public finances are on the mend by calling for an emergency budget to address the funding crisis hitting Tory- as well as Labour- and Lib Dem-run councils.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/10/housing-budget-817-million-unspent-astonished-mps

Swire says developers “gamed” Cranbrook to its detriment and Neighbourhood Plans aren’t working!

He says developers refused to create a town centre because there weren’t enough people living there! He says the council is now having to step in to rectify this!

Owl thinks that perhaps there are not enough people living there (question: how many is enough?) because there is no town centre!