Saturday, 17 October 2015

Cranbrook wins 'Best Overall Development' and 'Affordable Housing' awards ... but what exactly is 'affordable'?

Cranbrook has won accolades from professional planning and housing organisations.

Earlier in the spring, the new town was nominated 
Futures Forum: Cranbrook shortlisted for an 'infrastructure' award by planning professionals >>> but "Towns such as Cranbrook are becoming dormitories and commuter belts for 'Greater Exeter' – meaning many people must take to their cars in East Devon to get to their jobs in Exeter."

... by the Royal Town Planning Institute,

the principal body representing planning professionals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It promotes and develops policy affecting planning and the built environment.

Royal Town Planning Institute - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
RTPI.org.uk - mediation of space • making of place

And yet the RTPI has not avoided criticising Cranbrook over the years:

Development in Sustainable Locations?

May 2014

The NPPF has emphasised the need for meeting a five-year housing supply. However the RTPI considers that a single-minded focus on one short-term criterion may be at risk of placing the country in difficulty over the long-term horizon and in the context of the sustainable planning for places the NPPF aspires to. 

To give one example the district of East Devon has promoted, along with government support (both past and present) the construction of a new town at Cranbrook east of Exeter. This settlement attracted thousands of objections but nevertheless the council pushed ahead in the knowledge that a planned new town close to road and rail communications and with its own infrastructure is a preferable planning outcome to the proliferation of small scale village extensions. 

Nevertheless any housing built after 5 years cannot count towards the 5-year supply despite the fact that the settlement will take longer than that to be completed. By contrast our housing policy paper [6]argues that in cases where large-scale housing is being promoted demonstrably and effectively, exceptions to the 5-year land supply rule should be allowed.

The RTPI has shown considerable foresight in highlighting how energy issues will affect planning issues, for example:

Now Cranbrook has picked up more prizes.

This time they are courtesy of Inside Housing Magazine,

the leading weekly magazine for housing professionals in the UK... With its lively mix of news, features and analysis, housing professionals rely on Inside Housing to keep them fully updated on everything in the social housing world.

Although the magazine promotes the building of more housing per se, it is nevertheless critical of housing policy.

For example:

And today:

Inside Housing had earlier shortlisted Cranbrook:

The first phase of the project is made up of 40% affordable housing, delivered by social landlords Sovereign and DCH. Of this, 10% are market sale homes built to a smaller square meterage in order to achieve a lower price. The rest of the affordable housing is a 70/30 split between social rented and shared equity. An applicant for affordable housing in east Devon can now be housed in six to 12 months instead of the previous wait of three to four years.

New Devon town Cranbrook named in UK's top 60 developments | Western Morning News

The award is sponsored by the National House-Building Council:

However, new-builds and the 'guarantee' from the NHBC are not all they promise to be, apparently:

Moreover, the label 'affordable' masks the status of these houses:

Especially now that central government has made it more difficult for the District Council when it comes to 'social housing':

Moreover, whilst some do indeed feel they have benefitted

... not everyone is so positive about housing associations:

When it comes to Cranbrook, is it really '40% affordable'?

The first phase of construction at Cranbrook consists of 1,120 dwellings, but 328 of which will be low-cost housing, either social rent or affordable home ownership, allocated equally between Sovereign and Devon and Cornwall Housing.


11. The residents who occupy Phase 1 are local – 49% from Exeter, 28% from East Devon, 16% from the rest of Devon and only 7% from outside Devon. 

Phase 1 of the Cranbrook development contains 40% social housing which will reduce to 25% in the future phases due to an anticipated change in East Devon District Council’s policy – based on a more up-to-date viability assessment. This is in turn reflects the very substantial changes to the funding regime for affordable housing. 

Finally, Kevin McCloud has been critical of the 'affordable' houses which are 'smaller by 10%':

The high cost of land in Britain meant that “builders have had to get very good since the war at building badly, building cheaply to make stuff affordable”

Inside Housing has now awarded the new town as national winner of both the 'Best Overall Development' and the 'Affordable Housing' categories:

Cranbrook scoops two national housing awards

By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: October 17, 2015


New community Cranbrook on the outskirts of Exeter is now officially an award-winning development after picking up two national awards.

In the Inside Housing Magazine’s Top 60’ Awards – ‘winner of winners, it scooped Best Overall Development and winner of Affordable Housing category

The East Devon community was up against five other developments for the national title awarded by the magazine. The winners were announced yesterday at a ceremony at the Lancaster London Hotel to celebrate the Top 60 Developments and award the trophies.

Cranbrook’s two Awards were collected by Richard Cohen, East Devon District Council’s Deputy Chief Executive.

He said: “We were delighted to have won both of these awards. For Cranbrook to be recognised again on a national level is a huge endorsement to the work we are doing with our partners to make a difference to the lives of people in East Devon and Exeter.

“It has been a busy time for Cranbrook, with high profile visits from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the head of the Homes and Communities Agency both in the last few weeks. Winning this award is the icing on the cake.”

The Top 60 celebrate success and innovation in delivering new homes. The list highlights achievement in ten key areas, from design to sustainability. In each area, the best development is chosen and awarded a winner’s trophy, as well as a trophy for the overall winner.

Kevin Blakey, chairman of Cranbrook Town Council welcomed the news, added: “Everyone in Cranbrook will be so pleased that the town has won these highly acclaimed awards. It will send a clear message out to the rest of the country that things are happening here that are truly groundbreaking, and this will only add further to the exceptional community spirit and sense of identity we have here.”

Cranbrook scoops two national housing awards | Exeter Express and Echo

The EDW blog has nevertheless been very critical of the Cranbrook development:
On the one hand … Cranbrook gets housing awards … | East Devon Watch
What mainstream media isn’t telling you about that DCC Cranbrook Report! | East Devon Watch
Cranbrook: the result of 40 (yes, forty) years of planning! | East Devon Watch

As has this blog:
Futures Forum: Cranbrook: welcome to dismaland
Futures Forum: Happy news coming out of Cranbrook... churnalism and the partnership between developers and politicians...

Nevertheless, it seems that 'lessons are being learnt':
Futures Forum: Designing Cranbrook: how to 'respond to lessons learnt from the completed housing'
Futures Forum: A commentary on the Cranbrook Task Group final report

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