Town Centre Update
Before the consortium of developers (Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Hallam Land Management) can submit a planning application for the development of the town centre in Cranbrook, they need to evidence community engagement and the level of support for their proposals. Therefore they have launched a dedicated website with an online exhibition and questionnaire for residents to communicate their preferences at http://cranbrooktowncentre.com/. Normally consultation would take the form of a display and drop-in event locally but, because of current restrictions, this is not possible.
This consultation is in addition to the survey which the Town Council has been carrying out recently to evidence to the local planning authority East Devon District Council whether or not residents prefer the delivery of the consortiums proposals for the town centre in the near future or East Devon District Council’s proposals to prepare a supplementary planning document and masterplan for possible development over a much longer period of time.
On this page, the Town Council is keeping residents informed regarding the latest developments in relation to the delivery of the town centre in Cranbrook. Your views are important. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and to vote in our online poll.
Delivery of the Town Centre in Cranbrook
The Town Council has been pressing for the delivery of the town centre for some considerable time. In November 2019, a Strategic Delivery Board (the Board) was formed to bring together representatives of Devon County Council (DCC), the local planning authority East Devon District Council (EDDC), and the Town Council (CTC) to provide a coordinated and strategic direction. Much of its focus has been on investigating and progressing the town centre. Now there are two propositions on the table, one from the consortium of developers and one from EDDC. We need to know your views on which approach you support.
In short we have a choice between delivering a range of town centre facilities now or deliver a more ambitious town centre at some time in the future but without certainty over what can be delivered, how it’s going to be funded and how long it’s going to take to deliver.
Ultimately EDDC’s Strategic Planning Committee will have to decide between the two and the Town Council is keen to ensure that we represent the residents’ views and wishes during the decision-making process.
One proposal by the consortium of developers includes the following:
• A 2,500 square metres supermarket with an additional 1,000 square metres of retail space on Tillhouse Road (around 10 to 12 shops);
• A town square;
• A nursery;
• Around 350 town centre homes;
• Town hall with café, meeting spaces and around 15 rentable office units (including land and around one-third of the construction costs);
• Children’s centre, youth centre and library in a single building (including land and the construction costs to the Section 106 value);
• A skate park;
• Land for extra care facilities delivered by DCC;
• Land for a “blue light” facility to house fire, police and ambulance services;
• Opportunities to provide additional retail outlets (but these would need funding and we are in discussions about how to approach that along with remaining funding for the town hall).
If this proposal is accepted we would expect a planning application very soon with construction work going ahead within the year and the supermarket, shops and town square etc delivered during 2021.
The consortium is obligated to provide a number of town centre facilities at this stage of the development. These include 500 square metres of retail space, a children’s centre, skate park and land for a blue light facility. Other facilities such as a Town Council building, library, youth centre etc are not due for around 5-7 years. The consortium is not obligated to provide a supermarket, town square and the other facilities and would otherwise be driven by yet unknown market forces. Their proposal brings forward all these facilities and more.
East Devon District Council’s Proposal
The other approach being considered by EDDC planning officers is to develop a “supplementary planning document” (SPD) for the town centre in Cranbrook – which is essentially a masterplan covering the town centre development. It would include very similar facilities to those listed in the Consortium’s proposal above as well as:
• Fewer residential units;
• some workshops and light industrial units (over and above the rentable units described above)
• A hotel;
• possibly a leisure centre.
CTC approached EDDC but the detailed plans they are preparing for the meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee next month are still being developed and cannot be made public at present.
Whilst EDDC’s proposal might deliver a more ambitious town centre, we don’t know how long it would take EDDC to develop the town centre masterplan, there is no funding for those extra items and no timescale for delivery – it may take five years, possibly ten, or even longer and there is no guarantee that anything will be delivered at all. The Consortium are not obligated to provide these extra facilities and the process would rely on take-up from other potential investors.
The discussions which are taking place include an identified supermarket provider but if the consortium’s proposals are not taken forward, that provider would fall away and there would be a need to wait for another to come forward. As you can see the situation is finely balanced and requires a significant decision to be made. During the next few days we will show more details about the two proposals, and you are invited to comment and, most importantly, to vote in our online poll.