The East Devon town being labelled a success despite the lack of a town centre

East Devon

LiveWest chief executive Paul Crawford. - Credit: Robert Coombe

The chief executive of one of the companies behind homes in Cranbrook has labelled the town a “real success,” despite the lack of a town centre.

Paul Crawford, chief executive of LiveWest, one of the main providers of homes in Cranbrook, blames the lack of a town centre in Cranbrook on "current economic uncertainty gripping the country amidst the pandemic and changing fortunes for high street retailers"

“We do have local shops. We do have a community centre. We do have schools that are thriving and there’s a good infrastructure both for road and for buses"

Cranbrook currently has around 2,350 dwellings, equating to approximately 5,500 residents.  Almost 8,000 new homes are yet to be constructed, which would give the town a population of more than 18,000.

“Cranbrook has been a real success. It’s a really good example of civic leadership. I know there were over 9,000 complaints against Cranbrook being developed and I think you have to recongise that East Devon council showed great leadership and collaboration with Exeter to recognise  that there was a need for a new settlement  and it is successfully delivering homes that are needed for people within Devon

Mr Crawford said: “If commerce and retail don’t have the appetite to let that space and therein lies the problem. It’s a bit like asking LiveWest to build houses that no one wants to rent – we wouldn’t do it.

“A developer to go off and build a town centre now at a time where there may not be the confidence that people will rent those available units means that there have been delays and there will probably continue to be delayed. 

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“I think it’s something we’re just going to have to work through rather than recognising that – as and when we get back to a new normal in terms of high streets and what that looks like – then we will start to see more confidence in developing the town centre.”

He admits there is an argument to say things could have been done differently, with the town centre coming earlier in Cranbrook