Work gets under way for Cranbrook

Work officially got under way at the new community of Cranbrook this week, after 10 years of planning.

The partners behind the project held an official turf cutting ceremony, marking the start of work on the site off London Road (old A30) near Rockbeare in East Devon.

Those attending witnessed the start of work on the access road to phase one of Cranbrook, toured the site and viewed a 3D interactive model of the whole Exeter and East Devon Growth Point Area.

The vision for Cranbrook is to create a low-carbon, new community close to skilled employment opportunities, encouraging residents to use sustainable modes of transport. Phase one of Cranbrook will see 1,120 homes built, 300 of which will be affordable homes to be managed by Sovereign housing association and Tor Homes. A further 100 homes will be designed to be affordable open market housing.

There will be a new school, community facilities, railway station and a unique, environmentally-friendly, district heating system.

By creating the right conditions for businesses to develop and flourish, and good, safe and attractive places to live, we can help transform Devon’s economy and bring opportunities for growth to the region.”

Cranbrook will be the first free-standing new settlement in Devon since the Middle Ages.

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Designed as a modern market town, services and facilities are provided within the community for residents to use.

It has been agreed that vital services are to be delivered alongside the housing. For example, the new primary school will be ready for occupation of the first 300 homes, together with a multi-purpose community building, supported by Growth Point Grant Funding of �1.5 million, that will host a range of services such as a doctor’s surgery, library, town council offices and a hall for activities such a parent and toddler classes and provide a place to meet. National First for Carbon Saving Energy Centre Cranbrook will be built to a high standard of sustainability and, by doing so, become a model for low-carbon mass open market housing developments. Uniquely, residents at Cranbrook and businesses on the planned neighbouring Skypark Business Park, developed by St Modwen in partnership with Devon County Council, will be served by an Energy Centre supplying them with both heat and hot water. This will be run using biomass fuel in the future. The �25 million Energy Centre, which will be run by energy company E.ON, is the first of this scale in the UK.

It is estimated that the biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP), which will also generate electricity for the national grid, will provide an estimated 10,000 tonnes of CO2 saving per year for the first 2,900 homes at Cranbrook. In addition, residents will benefit from reduced energy bills, unlimited hot water, no boiler to maintain and no hot water cylinder. When this is achieved, Cranbrook will be the first mass open market development in the country to provide a district heating scheme on this scale. Partnership Success Cranbrook and the other major projects in the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point are evidence of what can be achieved through successful partnership between the public and private sector. Planning approval for the first phase of Cranbrook unlocked a �16.6 million investment from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). These funds allow developer partners Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Hallam Land in conjunction with Sovereign housing association and Tor Homes to start work to improve access to affordable housing in East Devon, where statistics show that house prices are more than 12 times the average household income for the area.

Funding from the South West RDA through the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) of �12 million has helped to secure the early provision of the primary school and the delivery of the Clyst Honiton Bypass (which also received funding of �4.5 million from the Growth Point Grant) and the access road to Cranbrook (Main Local Route). The award of RIF funding was conditional on the Combined Heat and Power system being installed. Cllr Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council said: “This is a real red letter day for Exeter and East Devon. It signals a massive investment and vote of confidence in the future economy of this wonderful area, offering hope to our many families who need homes and jobs in the district. It also represents the successful outcome of a long-standing partnership of local authorities, other public bodies and the private sector in bringing forward a scheme of such magnitude and vision in what continues to be such a difficult economic environment.” Steve Jackson, HCA area manager, who has worked closely with the consortium and Local Authority partners on developing the investment package, said: “A broad range of partners from both public and private sectors have come together to really add value to the Cranbrook project, and are creating a high quality new and distinctive place that people will choose to live and work in. “It is really excellent to be here on site to see this important step in the first phase of the development, which includes a range of high quality new housing, including 300 affordable homes, with attractive streets and green spaces, close to new job opportunities. I look forward to welcoming the first residents into their new homes next year.” Ian Piper South West RDA, Director of Development and Regeneration said: “I am delighted to see the start of the Cranbrook new community which represents the culmination of years of partnership working. Cranbrook will set new standards in terms of environmental performance and help to promote more sustainable ways of living. By deploying the Regional Infrastructure Fund alongside the RDA‟s major investments in the nearby Exeter Science Park and Flybe Training Academy, future residents of Cranbrook will have the opportunity to both live and work in the same area. This will help to develop the role of the Growth Point as a major economic driver for the South West and ensure the South West RDA leaves a significant legacy for the area.”

The New Community Partners (Hallam Land / Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey) are delighted that works are finally to commence on the Cranbrook development after many, many years of planning and procurement.

Nick Duckworth, of Hallam Land, said: “The commencement of the New Town of Cranbrook is the culmination of many shared dreams and bears testimony to the dedication, commitment and partnership that has been required by all the stakeholder groups and development partners; not least amongst these are EDDC, DCC, the HCA, the Growth Point Board and the South West RDA. We look forward to celebrating the occupation of the first residential units and to the delivery of key infrastructure elements, including the Clyst Honiton Bypass, that will also support and enable the opening up of other major development areas within the East of Exeter Area.”

Simon Perks of Persimmon Homes added: “Not only do we celebrate the commencement of a new settlement, the largest project in the whole of the South West, but we are also proud to be delivering a scheme with high sustainability credentials. Through the Consortium‟s partnership with E.ON, a district heating system will be built for the whole of the development that will place Cranbrook on the map at a national level!”

Colin Palmer of Taylor Wimpey noted that “It is genuinely exciting to see the commencement of this project against the back-drop of a fully funded infrastructure package and to be secure in the knowledge that as our first purchasers move into their new homes, the delivery of key community elements such as the first primary school, the community centre and areas of public open space will be delivered at an early date to ensure that Cranbrook will swiftly become a vibrant and vital community”. Councillor William Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment said: “The creation of a brand new vibrant, dynamic and low carbon community is an exciting prospect, not just for Exeter but the whole of the county. The new development will set a benchmark for future towns and villages, with pioneering new technology to reduce the environmental impact alongside business and science parks offering high value, knowledge based employment. By creating the right conditions for businesses to develop and flourish, and good, safe and attractive places to live, we can help transform Devon’s economy and bring opportunities for growth to the region.”

Ian Guy, Senior Development Manager for St Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist and the developer of Skypark, said: “Cranbrook, as a neighbouring community to Skypark will play an integral part in our long-term plans allowing people to live close to the place they work, as we establish a thriving business community providing 1.4 million sq ft of commercial space and around 7,000 jobs at Skypark. This milestone together with the M5 J29 improvements under way and now the Clyst Honiton bypass about to start is great news for both projects and the wider Growth Point area as it delivers jobs and homes for Exeter and East Devon.”

The start of work on the new community of Cranbrook follows a series of recent developments within the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point, the construction of the Redhayes Bridge over the M5, the opening of the Flybe Training Academy, improvement works to Junction 29 of the M5 under way, Sainsbury’s confirming their plans to create 450 jobs at the Exeter Gateway facility and major construction due to begin on the Clyst Honiton Bypass are just some of the projects moving forward during 2011.

An online interactive 3D masterplan for Exeter & East Devon Growth Point has been created of all the major developments planned for the region, to view this and for more information about the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point, click on the link.