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The new community of Cranbrook IS going to be built, and work on the first homes WILL begin in 2011. This follows the signing today of a legal agreement opening the door to the development going ahead.
The news was hailed as a "momentous breakthrough" by Cllr Sara Randall Johnson, Leader of East Devon District Council, who said:
"All of us want a home, a job and an easy journey to work. This development brings that hope to thousands of households, with a mixture of housing types, bespoke employment provided on fresh sites nearby and in the city of Exeter, and with a public transport system that encourages commuters to leave the car at home. This is fantastic news for people".
Following the signing of a Section 106 agreement, outline planning permission for the first 2,900 homes of the new community and up to 300 affordable housing units in the first phase, has now been issued and construction work is on course to begin in the early part of next year.
This marks a huge milestone for Cranbrook, as work on access roads can now begin, more detailed plans of the first homes, primary school and community facilities can now be submitted, and it's likely the first residents could be moving into their new homes in 2012.
The unique concept of a brand new low carbon community in East Devon has been in the planning process for many years, during which time we have been through a recession and now tough government spending cuts. But today the New Community Partners, (Hallam Land Management, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon) confirmed that they would be moving onto the site early in 2011.
Nick Duckworth of Hallam Land Management said:
"We are delighted that we have achieved this key milestone on the road to delivering Cranbrook and are grateful for the help and co-operation that we have received from all of our stakeholder partners. We now look forward to the successful implementation of the scheme during 2011."
Cllr Ray Franklin, Chairman of the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point Steering Board, explained what has made this possible;
"This breakthrough has only occurred today thanks to the dedication and hard work of everyone who has been involved with this development and their belief in our vision. Together with our local authority partners, the developers for Cranbrook, the developers of the adjacent projects, the South West RDA and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) we have compiled a multi-million pound private/public sector funding package to make Cranbrook happen.
From the public sector we were looking to provide funding for infrastructure such as the first school and the first roads, lifting the pressure from the developers during these difficult economic times; and from the private sector we were looking to attract investment to develop emerging technologies such as the combined heat and power (CHP) district heating scheme".
Ian Thompson, South West Regional Development Agency's Area Director added:
"It's great news that this important planning permission is now in place. The East of Exeter Growth area is a significant provider of new jobs and homes and will be one of the country's leading sustainable developments. It is also an excellent example of teamwork between the private and public sectors. South West RDA is pleased that our catalyst investments are contributing to this growth programme'
East Devon District Council has always wanted Cranbrook to be a sustainable new urban settlement located close to employment sites where residents might be able to find skilled job opportunities. With Cranbrook being built so close to Exeter Science Park and the Skypark business district, East Devon District Council believes they will be encouraging residents to use other modes of transport, such as the bus, train or bike in preference to the car.
Following the granting of the outline planning permission, Cllr Randall Johnson was able to confirm how these and other aspirations will make Cranbrook a sustainable modern market town:
"This is the day we have all been waiting for. The planning permission confirms that Cranbrook will include a low carbon district heating scheme, a dedicated bus route to and from Exeter, a multi-purpose building which will be home to the first library and community facilities until the town centre is built, two primary schools, a secondary school, a new railway station on the Exeter to Waterloo line and a country park. All of these facilities in a high-quality landscape setting to include a country park, public open space with play areas, a skateboard park and other recreational facilities.
"There will also be a network of sustainable transport options built into the design for the new community: including cycling routes and bus stops located no more than a few minutes walking distance from each dwelling. We have stuck to our guns in making provision for vital social and community facilities at Cranbrook. We want to encourage the new community to quickly develop its own sense of place and to become a splendid addition to the existing market towns of East Devon and a worthy neighbour to the nearby City of Exeter".
As Cranbrook will be the first free-standing settlement to be built in Devon since the Middle Ages, this is a huge undertaking for those involved. However within the Section 106 legal agreement the New Community Partners have agreed, via contributions and their build programme, to support the aspirations of the local authority.
Together with up front funding support from the South West RDA's Regional Infrastructure Fund and grant funding from the Growth Point Fund, the New Community Partners and East Devon District Council are able to deliver vital social and community infrastructure such as the first primary school, by the time the first 150 homes are built. This is earlier than one would normally expect in a new development of this kind.
The first road to be built will be the main access road or the Main Local Route (MLR) into Cranbrook. It will provide an essential link through the first phase of the development and enable access to the site of what will be the first neighbourhood centre and the station. In the Neighbourhood Centre there will eventually be a convenience store, various shops, the first primary school, open space and a site for a place of worship.
This is also where the first community building, the Multi-Purpose Building (MPB) will be built. The MPB will be 820 square meters of flexible space, providing a location for a doctors' surgery, a library, the community development worker, local voluntary organisations, Citizens Advice Bureau, the police, ambulance services and other public bodies.
As the development progresses and these services move into their own buildings the MPB can be reorganised for different purposes, such as for sport, exercise, the new town council, community meetings, and crèche facilities, to enhance its function as a focus for the new residents. In addition, the emphasis has been on building a ‘community' and not just a ‘place' with the funding by the developers of a youth worker, country park officer and a dwelling for a church worker.
Managing Director of Persimmon Homes Simon Perks said:
"We are delighted to have secured planning permission today and would like to thank all parties for their dedication and commitment in securing this. Cranbrook will indeed be a unique development and we are confident that the planning package achieves the right balance of ingredients to ensure a successful and vibrant new community."
He added, "The comment is often made on major developments that the facilities that provide the heart of a new community are not delivered soon enough. It is therefore excellent news to be able to confirm that elements of the funding package will enable the first primary school, the community centre, play areas and transport infrastructure to be provided from the earliest possible date. We are delighted too that Cranbrook will benefit from the UK's first greenfield district heating system. This will form a key part of the development's marketing strategy and enable us to telegraph Cranbrook's genuinely green and sustainable credentials. We very much look forward to launching our first sales during 2011."
Cranbrook is now poised to be the first mass open market low carbon development in the country to provide combined heat and power district heating to all residents. This is thanks to ground breaking work between the New Community Partners, St. Modwen the UK's leading regeneration specialist, Devon County Council (joint venture partners for Skypark), The Growth Point, the HCA, the South West RDA and E.ON, one of the UK's leading power and gas companies.
An Energy Centre which is to be located on the Skypark development will supply the district heating pipe network for both the business park and Cranbrook, reducing Co2 emissions across both developments and enabling them to reach much higher levels of sustainability than would otherwise be possible.
Cranbrook could now become a low carbon trail-blazer and the new blue print for future housing developments. The innovative approach to the masterplanning and sustainable credentials of Cranbrook was recognised by its inclusion in the Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) publication ‘Eco-Towns Prospectus' published in July 2007.
Lesley Crocker, T: 01395 571744, M: 07545419360
Notes to editors
The Multi-Million Pound Funding Package for Cranbrook
The funding package which is a complex mix of private and public sector finance includes £6 million of Growth Point Funding which will go towards the Multi-Purpose Building (MPB) and the Clyst Honiton Bypass; £12 million from the South West RDA's Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) to forward fund, the first Primary School and the Main Local Route (MLR). The developers will pay back the RIF fund as the development progresses.
Additional funding is coming from the Department of Transport's Major Scheme Bid, to go towards the improvements at Junction 29 of the M5
These funding packages will be supported by significant contributions from the developers ensuring that there is vital social and community infrastructure in place.
In addition, a further £3.6 million of grant funding has come from the HCA's Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund. These funds are to go towards the Combined Heat and Power District Heating Scheme for both Cranbrook and Skypark. In order to qualify for the funding the new community partners have agreed to deliver all houses in Cranbrook to at least code for sustainable homes level 4. And the £20 million energy centre for the scheme is being provided by E.ON.
The partners are also awaiting a decision on funding from the HCA, which would ensure the delivery of the affordable housing as part of the outline planning permission and associated infrastructure work on the site.
Exeter and East Devon New Growth Point
For more information about Exeter and East Devon:
New Growth Points
A New Growth Point is a Partnership initiative between the Government and local authorities wishing to pursue large scale sustainable growth.
Exeter and East Devon New Growth Point is a partnership commitment between Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, The South West Regional Development Agency, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Government to deliver sustainable economic growth. Exeter and East Devon was recognised by the Government as a New Growth Point in 2006.
Further information about New Growth Points and Partnership for Growth with the Government, can be found at: