Wednesday, 11 June 2014

District Council leader: “Sidmouth has a vibrant town centre and its community keeps a degree of excellence in maintaining it. Cranbrook should be striving to match that level of vibrancy for it to achieve all the aspirations that we have for it.”

Last week's District Council cabinet meeting was crucial on many counts:
Futures Forum: District Council cabinet meets Weds 4th June: how to interpret FOI requests
Futures Forum: District Council: vote on restricting public speaking..... Weds 4th June
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the current issues: LATEST: District Council cabinet to consider its "Relocation Update": Weds 4th June

Another issue cabinet considered was their 'vision' for the new town of Cranbrook:
Cranbrook - Exeter and East Devon Growth Point
Futures Forum: "The new build for the western growth area of the district will provide much-needed business and employment for the young families as they set up new homes."
Futures Forum: Cranbrook

From the minutes of last week's meeting:

Achieving the vision for Cranbrook 

Richard Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive introduced the up-date report on Cranbrook, emphasising the importance of building a community. The New Community Projects Officer and Urban Designer gave a presentation on progress in delivering key infrastructure and main themes including Garden City principles/ideals. The focus was on how the Council’s vision for the new community could best be achieved. 
Proposals would include consultation with the new Cranbrook community residents. 

Members noted the proposal for a new partnership group to act as guardian for the vision and to provide strategic direction, including how to establish a sustainable local economy. 

 Change in expectations of what people want from a viable town centre; 
 Garden city principles were welcomed and had key similarities with the 
Council’s strategic vision; 
 Consideration should be given to providing a bridge between ‘home-based’ 
businesses and taking on a commercial unit. An indoor market was suggested. Use of business mentors and support from the Prince’s Trust were possible 
 The community needed an information focus where they could find out what was happening in their town and where they could feed in their views and information; 
 It was recognised that the involvement of the community in shaping Cranbrook would be vital to the success of the town 
 The co-ordination of the efforts of all involved and leadership was key. 
 Broadclyst Parish Council supported the new community and the 
recommendations within the report. 
 It was vital to achieve a sustainable housing balance. Emphasis needed to be on local housing for local people. Providing a community structure would save Cranbrook from being a dormitory town of Exeter. Members had a key role to play in helping achieve a quality development. 

On behalf of the Cabinet, the Leader gave wholehearted support to the work of the Cranbrook project team.

RESOLVED that to achieve the vision for Cranbrook, the following steps be 

 (1) hold workshops to revise the Cranbrook Vision, in light of 
government promotion of Garden Cities’ principles; 

 (2) support the preparation of a Development Brief for the 
remainder of the outline permission, and an Area Action 
Plan covering all future phases of Cranbrook, including 
the extension areas, informed by an Enquiry by Design 
master planning process based around the reviewed 

 (3) organise and manage internal resources to support the 
achievement of the vision along with any budgetary 

 (4) endorse the establishment of a new partnership group 
specifically responsible for achieving the vision for 
Cranbrook, delegating the responsibility for finalising the 
detail of this to the Deputy Chief Executive; 

 (5) agree the assessment of a number of mechanisms to 
support the delivery of the vision for Cranbrook, which 
could include direct investment and will be the subject of 
a future report to Cabinet; 

 (6) Cabinet refers this report and its recommendations to the 
Development Management Committee for consideration; 

 (7) discuss this report and its recommendations with the East 
Devon New Community Partners and agree next steps. 

 REASON To support the delivery of the vision for Cranbrook. 


Several questions arise:

> How exactly will 'building a community' happen?
> What exactly are the 'proposals' which 'would include consultation with the new Cranbrook community residents'?
> How exactly would 'the involvement of the community in shaping Cranbrook' come about?
> To what extent can a council actually create a 'vision' for a new town? 
> It is possible for an overall understanding of place and purpose to be realised through the likes of 'workshops', 'Development Briefs', 'new partnership groups', and 'a number of mechanisms'.
> What will be the interaction be between these bureaucratic arrangements and the 'involvement' of residents?

And from today's View from Sidmouth:

SIDMOUTH: Cranbrook has much to learn from Sidmouth

By Jack Dixon. 
11th June 2014

Cranbrook should look at Sidmouth’s “vibrant” town centre and try to adopt a similar approach in its development, a senior councillor said this week.

Speaking at the East Devon District Council cabinet meeting on Wednesday (June 4th), Council Leader Paul Diviani said the Sidmouth community maintained a “degree of excellence” in its management of the town centre and Cranbrook residents could learn a lot from its development.

Councillors were discussing the future “vision” for Cranbrook and ways to prevent it becoming a “dormitory” for Exeter.

Councillor Diviani said: “Sidmouth has a vibrant town centre and its community keeps a degree of excellence in maintaining it.

“Cranbrook should be striving to match that level of vibrancy for it to achieve all the aspirations that we have for it.”

Planning guidance for the new town outlines the importance of Cranbrook becoming a “dynamic, vibrant and growing town with a thriving heart”.

And a report presented to councillors at the meeting recommended new ways to revise the “vision”, along the principles of the Government’s “Garden City” initiative.

Councillor Ray Bloxham, EDDC Cabinet Member for Corporate Business, added: “Cranbrook has a very active and young community and there are plans to bring forward the community market to help develop the town centre further.

“At the moment people have nowhere to go to get information, which can lead to disparate development socially and commercially.

“The market would provide a bridge to enable businesses to grow and that is particularly important.”

Councillors also discussed the progress of the proposed move to Skypark, which was stalled last week pending the outcome of a Town and Village Green application submitted by the Knowle Residents’ Association.

Councillor David Cox said the move would be a “long, slow and difficult” process” with a series of “complicated transactions”.

View From Online - News from West Dorset, East Devon & South Somerset

More questions arise:
> To what extent has the cabinet considered how Sidmouth has developed a 'vibrant' town centre?
> Or how 'its community keeps a degree of excellence in maintaining it'?
> Is it possible for a new town with no history and no sense of community - and with a vision which has been prepared for it - to replicate that of an established town?
> Rather than the council and councillors  trying 'to achieve all the aspirations that we have for it' - is it not up to the residents to create over time 'a thriving heart' to their community?
> In other words, to what extent can 'a dynamic, vibrant and growing town' be created top-down - or does it need time to develop organically?

There are many reasons why Sidmouth is so 'vibrant':
> A predominance of small businesses:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Business Cafe - 1st birthday
Futures Forum: The Sid Valley Business Awards 2014: winners
Futures Forum: "Statistics show us that small and medium-size businesses (including those in tourism) are our life blood."
> The oldest civic society in the UK:
Sid Vale Association - Welcome to the Sid Vale Association Website
> A community market - set up by the community:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Markets
> Hosting the HQ of the District Council:
Will EDDC abandon HQ for Cranbrook? - News - Midweek Herald
> A busy high street - rather than out-of-town shopping centres:

Sidford Fields – AONB or business park? | Save Our Sidmouth
Access to Alexandria Road Industrial Estate | Save Our Sidmouth
> A large park in the middle of the town - with an active group of volunteers:

Friends of The Byes / Sidmouth BEE Project | Facebook
Wild flowers to blossom in The Byes thanks to donation - News - Sidmouth Herald
Futures Forum: Knowle: the Byes and when a 'meadow' is a 'park'...
> And a supportive Town Council:

SIDMOUTH: Voluntary groups to benefit from council grant hand-out

But it seems that councillors will not consider surrendering the building of 'visions' to the community:
Futures Forum: Localism: The uses and abuses of power: "No politician willingly surrenders control downwards."

1 comment:

Sophist said...

Easy words to say, but less easy to achieve.

1. Cranbrook is a bunch of houses now owned by people who don't know each other and have no common hobbies, social events etc. To bring people together needs more vision than has previously been evident - and possibly too late now to bolt on a new vision. What was needed was to get sufficient s106 funds from developers to create a variety of social venues that people could start to use in order to bring the residents together to make a community.

As EDDC has identified, what is needed now is a sense of purpose to bring people together, and there is nothing better than a fight for something important to do that. Fortunately, EDDC might well be providing that impetus as there is a growing frustration at the way EDDC operates that people are starting to coalesce around.

2. Am I alone in feeling that there is a hidden agenda in the Cranbrook "vision" that a local council office which can provide people with information is the solution? Oh - what a surprise!!! EDDC are already planning a VERY expensive, possibly unnecessary and probably very expensive move to the Skypark which is on Cranbrook's doorstep.