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Housing scheme in historic market town could ‘obscure views to Framlingham’s principle assets’

07:00 22 January 2016

The view of St Michael

The view of St Michael's Church tower from the footpath running between Brick Lane and Fairfield Road in Framlingham, where the Taylor Wimpey wants to build 163 homes

The development of 163 homes in a historic part of Suffolk could destroy public views to three heritage monuments in the county, a planning inquiry has heard.

The footpath which runs along the Fairfield Road site in Framlingham where 163 homes could be built and arguably obscure historic views of Framlingham College, St Michael's Church and Framlingham Castle.The footpath which runs along the Fairfield Road site in Framlingham where 163 homes could be built and arguably obscure historic views of Framlingham College, St Michael's Church and Framlingham Castle.

Suffolk Coastal District Council was yesterday defending its decision to refuse Taylor Wimpey’s plans to build 163 homes at Fairfield Road in Framlingham at a public inquiry at which the developer is appealing the decision.

The council called expert heritage witness Roy Lewis to defend its case, who said of particular concern would be the development’s impact on views to Framlingham College, Framlingham Castle and St Michael’s Church tower from an existing footpath between Brick Lane and Fairfield Road.

“The footpath actually becomes subsumed into the development,” said Mr Lewis. “The houses are arranged closely, terraced with small gaps. They are wide-fronted buildings that would completely obscure all the views that you get of the town as you walk along that footpath.

“Instead of getting these attractive views of the three principle assets, you are looking at buildings, parked cars and you are walking along the edge of a housing scheme so the experience would be absolutely transformed.”

Mr Lewis said Taylor Wimpey’s attempts to rectify the issue by providing a viewing point within the development was not an adequate replacement and was unlikely to be used by many due to it being embedded within the development and accessed from a private drive.

“It wouldn’t be the wide panoramic views that we have got at the moment,” he said. “It would be narrow vistas.”

However, cross-examining Mr Lewis on behalf of Taylor Wimpey, Hereward Phillpot said that English Heritage - now known as Historic England - had not objected to the development.

A statement read at the inquiry, submitted by English Heritage at the time that planning permission was being considered, said: “We do not consider this impact to be adversely harming.”

Mr Lewis said he considered Historic England’s response to be flawed, and that views to all three of Framlingham’s principle assets would be lost as a result of the development.

“I do not feel that the responses are factually accurate,” he said. “It claims that you can’t see the church tower from the footpath. You can see it all the way along the footpath and they think you can only see views from the south eastern corner.”

He also disputed the claim that some of the views were currently obscured by housing already built in nearby Fairfield Crescent.

“The housing is single story bungalows. You see the historic town including it’s three principle assets above the level of the bungalows.”

Mr Phillpot said: “What Historic England are saying is acknowledging impact on views towards the assets but making clear that [the impact is] not adversely high to result in harm of the significance [of the assets].

“This is the views of the government’s advisor on historic matters. You said it has a significant factual inaccuracy. It’s absolutely plain that when English Heritage gave their view they were aware that there were views of the church tower and Framlingham College from this site.”

The inquiry continues.

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