Ipswich: Borough faces legal threat from county council
09:16 14 May 2014
Ipswich council could face a legal challenge from its neighbours across the road over a controversial planning decision to allow 94 homes to be built near Sproughton Road.
The borough approved the application for the development off Europa Way at its planning and development committee meeting last month.
Officers had recommended the developers should be required to pay £231,439 towards the cost of new school facilities for primary school children – and that seven “affordable” homes for rent should be built.
They had produced an option for a reduced contribution towards new school facilities, £91,038, and nine “affordable” homes for rent.
However their clear recommendation was for the higher figure for education. The report said: “It has been identified that Ipswich Borough has a problem with its primary schools not being able to meet forecasted growth.
“Whitehouse Primary School is the catchment school that does not have the forecasted capacity to accommodate primary school pupils from this development.
“The contribution required from this development will go directly towards providing the additional spaces required. This is a necessary requirement if the development is to be considered sustainable.”
However the Labour-dominated committee over-ruled their officers and voted for the higher number of affordable homes with a reduction in financial support for the school.
Now Suffolk County Council’s lawyers have written to the borough asking for the decision to be reconsidered – and saying that if this does not happen they will seek a judicial review of the decision.
County council leader Mark Bee said: “There is a clear formula for funding of schools when there are large developments, and the borough has ignored this more than once.
“We are concerned that if this is allowed to go through unchallenged, the borough will seek to reduce education contributions when it comes to giving permission for the development of the Northern Fringe.”
He was disappointed that the dispute had forced the county to send the letter added because he wanted to work with the borough – but he was determined to ensure nothing would get in the way of the county’s determination to improve school standards.
“Raising the attainment in our schools is our number one priority – I won’t allow the borough to put the education of children in Ipswich at risk in this way.”
A spokesman for the borough said: “We were surprised by the content of the letter we received today and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”