Aerial view of Cranbrook

Sustainability SustainableSustainability HouseSustainability InfrastructureSustainability Partnership


Persimmon Homes South West is working in partnership with East Devon District Council, Devon County Council, the Homes & Communities Agency and other developers to deliver one of the UK’s first sustainable Eco-towns.

The principle for future housing growth within this part of Exeter formed part of Devon’s 2001-2016 Structure Plan and was included in East Devon’s Local Plan 1995-2001.  Proposals for its future expansion, with the potential to provide around 8,000 homes, are being considered through the Council’s Development Plan Document in consultation with the local community. The Project has recently been shortlisted in the ‘Housing Initiative’ category of the Local Government Chronicle Award 2017. To read more about Cranbrook and follow its progress, please visit Exeter and East Devon’s Growth Point website.

Key elements

Having secured planning permission in 2010, with Persimmon’s first customers taking ownership of their new homes in August 2012, the community has now grown to some 1,500 households served by key facilities and infrastructure including schools, shops, a district heating facility, integrated transport facilities (including its own train station), modern business opportunities and a regional park. Key to its success has been the innovative and collaborative approach from the partnership to deliver a vision based on sound sustainable planning principles.

From the outset, the vision for Cranbrook has been to develop a sustainable, fully integrated community, providing facilities and services to minimise the need to travel by car, combined with the ability to accommodate future growth.  Its close proximity to skilled employment opportunities and delivery of an integrated transport plan, including a new rail station and high speed bus services to the £120m Skypark business development and Exeter Airport, is key to achieving these objectives. Delivery of the scheme in a phased manner is necessary to establish communities with their own character and sense of place as well as ensuring the delivery of key infrastructure and Exeter Airport, is key to achieving these objectives.


New Court Station, Cranbrook

Given the community provides homes for many families with school age children an overarching consideration has been the provision of educational and other facilities.  The initial phase of the development was served by St Martin’s Church of England Primary School together with a Community Centre. The second phase of the development saw Cranbrook’s Education Campus open in September 2015, which offers up to 420 primary school places with early years’ provision and up to 1,000 secondary school places within one development. Cranbrook’s first supermarket opened in September 2015 and three months later a new railway station opened to serve the needs of the community.

As a new community and as part of the exemplary credentials for the development, ideas for sustainable energy were explored.  After careful consideration the use of district heating was agreed. In very basic terms this operates like a giant central heating system.  An energy centre produces hot water for heating and domestic use through a network of pipes into each and every property.  The excess energy produced from the energy centre provides electricity back to the grid making it very efficient. Customers get instant hot water and heating without boiler maintenance costs.  In addition, smart metering with costs that track the general energy market, make it an efficient and cheaper solution than conventional heating systems.


Cranbrook Energy Centre

“What we are actually doing is rewriting the blueprint for how developments are designed and built and how energy can be supplied. We will be one of the first, if not the first local authority to build a mass open market development with district heating from day one. We will not only be reducing carbon emissions, but reducing energy bills. The potential benefits for the environment and for the residents are clear.”

Councillor Ray Franklin
Growth Point Chairman & Member of East Devon District