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Cranbrook: from eco newtown to housing estate: part 2

  • by JW

The large housing estate on the outskirts of Exeter is simply getting bigger:

East Devon : Grassy Field & Cranbrook… © Lewis Clarke cc-by-sa …

Cranbrook: from eco newtown to housing estate


A new piece on Devon Live looks at the long view – and ‘looks at the positives’. Nevertheless, within the article, it suggests the original vision was ‘a bit unrealistic’:


What people really think about Cranbrook – Devon’s pioneering new town

It has always had its critics but now Cranbrook is at a crossroads which could define its future

When the history of Cranbrook comes to be written the year 2019 may well be regarded as pivotal.

It is seven years since the housing experiment on the eastern extremities of Exeter welcomed its first residents. Since then the population has grown to around 5,000 and the number of occupied houses now touches 2,000.

But what we see in 2019 represents only a quarter of its final size. The next 12 months will determine whether Cranbrook gets anywhere close to fulfilling its original purpose of being a trailblazing self-sustaining town or just a sprawling, soulless housing estate with attitude.

Over the past two years DevonLive has kept a close eye on the burgeoning development. It hasn’t all been positive in the press. The town has been referred to as everything from ‘Crimebrook’ to ‘Poundland Poundbury’ – a reference to the Prince of Wales’ lavishly supported housing scheme in Dorset.

More recently the place seems to have lost its town centre before it was even built.  This week DevonLive published a story to say Cranbrook risks failing its residents unless a new push is made to build the long-promised supermarket, skatepark, auditorium, children’s centre, civic building, new shops etc…

The original vision talked of a ‘self-sustaining’ eco-town within easy reach of employment opportunities and fit for the demands of the 21st centruy. Car travel would be reduced due to the new train stop and a trail-blazing ‘vibrant town’ connected by multiple cycle routes would help the town grow and take its place in the ‘natural hierarchy’ of Devon settlements. In truth, it was all a bit unrealistic.

What people really think about Cranbrook – Devon’s pioneering new town


The comments section is not exactly flattering:

What people really think about Cranbrook – Devon’s pioneering new town – Comments


And the East Devon Watch blog’s critique is pretty scathing:

DevonLive’s attempt to talk up Cranbrook – own goal


See the Futures Forum piece from some five years ago:

Cranbrook: What’s the difference between a housing estate and an eco newtown?