Cranbrook will get the town centre it deserves including a Morrison’s supermarket, a range of shops, a youth centre, library and town council offices following a decision by East Devon District Council’s Cabinet last night.
The council has struck a hard-fought deal with developers to bring forward multi-million pound plans which includes land to provide a range of other community, leisure and business spaces and could include a leisure centre.
Cabinet also agreed a way forward for a sports pavilion to be delivered at Ingrams through the developers working with Cranbrook Town Council.
In 2018, the council consulted with Cranbrook residents and asked them what they would like to see in the community and a leisure centre came top of the list. Sports pitches and facilities was also high on the list.
The Cabinet decision means that the council will be investing heavily in Cranbrook’s future to the tune of millions of pounds as it can buy land to build areas of the town centre itself.
Councillor Dan Ledger, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for strategic planning, said: “I am really pleased that our determined negotiations on behalf of the public interest in Cranbrook have paid off. Historic lessons must be learned about a council leaving the roll-out of a new town to developers - as was decided many years ago.
“But we have now shown our commitment to win the very best possible outcome for local people in this situation, and I am proud that our administration stuck by its guns against much pressure to concede inferior terms four months ago.
“The people of Cranbrook will benefit from this decision for many generations to come.”
The decision has also been welcomed by the council’s Cranbrook members who have fought long and hard on behalf of their residents.
Councillors Kevin Blakey, Kim Bloxham and Sam Hawkins said: “This is great news for the residents of Cranbrook. We have been expecting a resolution on this for a very long time.
“We are really looking forward to seeing the detailed plans coming forward and hope that the first spade will be in the ground as soon as the permissions have been granted.
“We are also very pleased that the matter of building the sports pavilion is being passed to the Town Council. This will ensure that a building suited to the needs of the community can now be delivered in a timely manner.”
Cllr Paul Arnott, Leader of the council, said: "I am delighted that the people of Cranbrook now have the freedom to finish the sports pavilion under their own steam, and also that we have managed to get the best possible outcome for them for the future of the town centre."
The next stage is for the developers to seek planning permission for the supermarket, the town square, a parade of shops and a childrens’ day nursery. Subject to permission being granted, the developers say that these facilities could be open by late 2022.
Since building began at Cranbrook in 2012, a retail-led high street with shops was envisaged. However, with the rise of internet shopping and the decline of the high street, a great deal of work has been carried out by the council to understand the role of a 21stcentury town centre.
Over the last year, the council has been working with the Cranbrook consortium of developers, which includes two major house builders, to negotiate what the town needs and how it can be delivered.
Proposals were considered by two meetings of the strategic planning committee in October and December. Councillors rejected the developers’ deals on both occasions because they were concerned that they wouldn’t meet the needs of the town as it grew to the proposed 7,800 homes. Currently 2,200 homes have been completed.
Following further negotiation, a better deal came forward just before Christmas.