Through its Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF), the joint RDA and Department for Transport investment will help pay for a package of infrastructure projects which are vital to allow the first homes to be built as well as releasing employment land to create thousands of jobs.
The investment is part of a package of support from the public sector which aims to deliver one of the first and largest ‘low carbon’ developments in the UK. As such it will make a major contribution to the RDA’s ambitions for a low carbon economy in the south west.
The £12 million RIF investment includes:
£3m towards a £10m Clyst Honiton bypass - essential to enable planned growth east of Exeter, the main growth area for Exeter over the next 20 years
£4m for the main road serving the first phase of Cranbrook and linking to its new railway station
£5m to forward fund a new primary school serving Cranbrook Phase 1
It brings to £22 million the total investment in the East of Exeter area through the RIF, following RDA approval in 2008 of £10 million towards a new rail station for Cranbrook and improvements to junctions 29 and 30 of the M5. Together the investments will allow for the initial development of 2,900 homes at Cranbrook and 75 hectares of land to support businesses. This will help create up to 4,500 jobs and enable key projects to proceed including the Skypark business park and Exeter Science Park.
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Ian Piper, Director of Development & Regeneration, for the South West RDA, said: “This investment shows how we can help tackle the effects of the recession, plan for long term growth and build a low carbon economy which fits with our own low carbon aspirations and follows on from our designation last week as the UK’s first Low Carbon Economic Area.
“It means work to create thousands of new jobs and new homes can get under way, delivering the environmentally sustainable growth that is vital to our long term economic future and putting the region in a great position to make the most of the economic recovery when it comes.”
The RDA’s Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) is an innovative fund which delivers vital infrastructure much earlier than it might otherwise be provided. Infrastructure is often the key element that, once in place, allows the rest of any development to happen. The fund then reclaims the investment from private developers usually through so-called Section 106 contributions collected by local authorities.
The proposed biomass Combined Heat and Power energy centre for Cranbrook received a boost last week when the Government announced £2.5 million funding for the scheme through its ‘low carbon infrastructure fund’. In making Cranbrook low carbon it is estimated 10,000 tonnes of CO2 a year could be saved on the first phase of homes.
The Cranbrook New Community Partners [Hallam Land Management, Persimmon Homes, Redrow Homes and Taylor Wimpey Homes] issued a joint statement of support and are delighted at the news of confirmation of much needed investment support. A spokesman for the Consortium said: “Delivery of the Cranbrook scheme is challenging, particularly in the current very difficult economic climate. Without the investment support it would simply not be achievable at this time. The partners remain hopeful that with the recent announcements we are now very close indeed to achieving this crucial objective and being able to launch Cranbrook.”
Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: “This is a massive vote of confidence for the credibility of the work we and our partners are doing to the east of Exeter. Against a backdrop of recession and a smaller public purse, it’s all the more heartening that they are keeping faith with the projects that we and our partners have been working so hard to implement.
“It’s also a big vote of confidence in the strategic importance of this area to the wider economy of the South West and in our ability to complete the projects that we are on the cusp of delivering as a partnership through the Growth Point Delivery Team”.
Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Strategic Planning, William Mumford, who also chairs the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point said: "I am extremely pleased to hear this news. Cranbrook is a key investment area for Exeter and Devon and this boost for the road network and a new primary school for Cranbrook is very welcome. The Devon economy is one of our top priorities for the Council at this time and a strong partnership between us, the districts and South West RDA are key to driving projects like this forward."