Councillors' 'delight' at prospect of better planning for Cranbrook's future

PUBLISHED: 14:05 05 September 2019

Councillors Sam Hawkins, Kevin Blakey and Kim Bloxham. Picture: Mark Williams

Councillors Sam Hawkins, Kevin Blakey and Kim Bloxham. Picture: Mark Williams

Mark Williams

A decision to set up a special board to deliver facilities and services in Cranbrook has been welcomed by the three district councillors representing the town.

It follows warnings that Cranbrook could become an 'austerity town' unless action is taken.

On Wednesday, September 4, East Devon District Council's cabinet agreed to establish a strategic delivery board, comprising members of the town, district and county councils.

The board will be tasked with ensuring there is a clear plan for delivering key parts of Cranbrook, monitoring risks and securing funding.

The decision came in response to a report to the cabinet, warning that the original planning agreement under which facilities and services would be provided is a 'relatively inflexible legal document which was negotiated in a different financial era'.

The Section 106 agreement requires the developers' consortium to provide facilities such as a library, council offices, a community hub, play areas, bus services and schools.

The plan was for these to be provided as certain 'trigger points' were reached in terms of Cranbrook's population numbers.

The report explains that, over the years, opinions on how the various services should be provided have changed, and the facilities outlined in the original agreement are no longer considered suitable.

For instance, a health and wellbeing hub is thought to be the best way of fulfilling the developers' obligations on children's and youth centre provision, primary healthcare and a leisure centre.

During the last four years, the report says, there has been work to 'actively reinvent how these facilities come forward'.

But the process has proved extremely complex and, with critical trigger points looming, 'ultimately there has been no resolution as to what form key facilities should take and how they should be delivered'.

In view of the situation, Cranbrook's three district councillors, Kevin Blakey, Kim Bloxham and Sam Hawkins, have expressed 'delight' at the prospect of the strategic delivery board.

Mrs Bloxham, the lead member for Cranbrook, said: "This is an important step which we have been campaigning for.

"With no development corporation and Cranbrook being essentially a private development, it is really important that the three councils (DCC, EDDC and the town council) have a proper structure through which plans and decisions can be coordinated and delivered."

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