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Anger after Woodbridge ‘cheese wedge’ homes approved – but decision not unanimous

PUBLISHED: 18:20 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:40 13 October 2017

Protesters outside East Suffolk House opposing plans for new homes in Woodbridge: GEMMA MITCHELL

Protesters outside East Suffolk House opposing plans for new homes in Woodbridge: GEMMA MITCHELL

Archant

“Shame on you” – those were the cries from objectors after councillors gave the controversial ‘cheese wedge’ housing proposal in Woodbridge the green light.

A CGI aerial view of the proposed development of the former Suffolk Coastal HQ site on Melton Hill, Woodbridge. Picture: HOOPERS ARCHITECTSA CGI aerial view of the proposed development of the former Suffolk Coastal HQ site on Melton Hill, Woodbridge. Picture: HOOPERS ARCHITECTS

Suffolk Coastal District Council’s (SCDC) planning committee approved the plan for 100 homes at the site of the authority’s former offices in Melton Hill during a meeting today, with nine officers voting in favour and four against.

The approval is for the principles of the scheme by Active Urban (Woodbridge) Ltd and detailed design matters still need to be agreed.

Leaders must also wait for the sign-off from Secretary of State for Communities, Sajid Javid, who has reserved the right to ‘call in’ the application for his determination because SCDC owns the land.

Protestors armed with placards formed a picket line outside East Suffolk House, including Woodbridge resident Sue Cole, whose home overlooks the location of the proposed development.

Members of the public at a Suffolk Coastal District Council planning meeting, at which proposals for the 'cheese wedge' homes were approved. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLMembers of the public at a Suffolk Coastal District Council planning meeting, at which proposals for the 'cheese wedge' homes were approved. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Speaking before the meeting, Ms Cole branded the design of the fresh housing estate a “monstrous carbuncle”.

She added: “They are turning Woodbridge into a new town.”

Developers want to demolish the buildings currently on the site and replace them with 100 homes, 33 of which will be affordable, in 14 blocks up to five storeys high, plus a community building and a retail unit, possibly a coffee shop. There will also be underground parking involving 93 spaces for residents and six for visitors.

Around 100 members of the public attended the heated meeting.

Members of the Suffolk Coastal District Council planning meeting, discussing proposals for the 'cheese wedge' homes. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLMembers of the Suffolk Coastal District Council planning meeting, discussing proposals for the 'cheese wedge' homes. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

The main concerns highlighted were the height, density and appearance of the blocks, as well as the insufficient number of parking spaces and the planned felling of trees currently preserving privacy for residents, particularly in Deben Road.

Among those who spoke out was Buffy Barrington, of Melton Parish Council, who urged leaders to “start this process again with a much more community minded view”.

Veronica Falconer, of Woodbridge Town Council, said the proposals did not do justice to the town.

Melton councillor Jim Bidwell said the buildings would not look out of place at a university campus.

He added: “The would-be developers should be told to go away and think again. What they are proposing is an affront to the people of east Suffolk.”

Raymond Catchpole, vice chairman of the planning committee, said the site at Melton Hill was “probably one of the most important in Suffolk if not further afield”.

He added: “The potential of developing that site has to be realised, however the innovative scheme that has been presented I believe falls far short of the full potential of developing this site.”

David Hughes, from Active Urban, said the properties would be “very attractive” to those downsizing from a larger home and elderly people.

Mr Hughes said his team was also looking into the possibility of providing more on-site parking following feedback received.

SCDC planning officer, Liz Beighton, described the scheme as evolutionary, modern, bold and forward-thinking.

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