Felixstowe: Controversial greenfield homes schemes given go-ahead at resort
07:00 07 February 2014
Nearly 400 new homes at Felixstowe – nearly a quarter of those needed at the resort over the next 13 years – were yesterday approved on two edge-of-town greenfield sites.
New policy for the Suffolk Coastal area says the resort must have an extra 1,760 homes, in addition to those already given the go-ahead but not yet built, by 2027.
Councillors approved proposals from Optima Land and Property for up to 200 properties on a 12-acre field in Ferry Road, Old Felixstowe, and 190 homes for Trinity College, Cambridge, on a 12.7-acre field off Walton High Street.
Together the developments should provide around 120 much-needed new affordable homes.
The council chamber was overflowing as more than 100 objectors packed the south area development management meeting to hear the debate on the Ferry Road site.
Councillors had received more than 230 objections, with residents claiming the project would destroy views from the adjoining Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and introduce light and air pollution, extra traffic on roads congested at peak times, and mean the loss of grade two farmland.
Felixstowe Town Council labelled the project as “overdevelopment”, conservation group The Felixstowe Society called for refusal, and Suffolk Preservation Society voiced concerns.
Councillor Chris Slemmings believed residents would accept some development and called for a planning brief to be designed for the site, but councillor Doreen Savage said the land was unsuitable, the project premature, and too far from shops and other services.
Councillor Kimberley Williams said: “The environmental harm of this application outweighs the very limited social and economic benefits it will bring.”
She urged that all brownfield land be used before greenfield any sites are taken, and feared because of the daily congestion in Ferry Road and Colneis Road, people taking students to Felixstowe Academy would use the newly-designated “quiet lane” Gulpher Road as a “rat run”.
Head of planning Philip Ridley accepted the homes would have an impact on the AONB but said the harm was outweighed by the need for new homes. He said “delivering housing is paramount”.
Councillors voted six to three to approve the development and then by a narrower five to four to accept the land off Walton High Street after Trinity College offered to build a three-arm roundabout at the entrance to the 190-home estate, which will share access with the new academy.
Development of the site was refused last year and the college has lodged an appeal – and councillors had been warned that losing the case could cost taxpayers up to £50,000.
Planning case officer Liz Beighton said: “Officers re-affirm the position that there are no defendable grounds to refuse the application and its refusal will in all likely event place the council in a very difficult position should the appeal be pursued.”