June 20 2013 Latest news:
Exclusive by Emma Brennan, EXCLUSIVE
Monday, March 11, 2013
A MAJOR development which would radically change the face of a west Suffolk town is in jeopardy after it was revealed the developer has pulled out.
Plans for the 270-acre Chilton Woods development to the north of Sudbury, which was expected to bring up to 1,050 new homes to the area, have been in the pipeline for more than a decade.
Developer Redrow Homes and landowner Suffolk County Council have carried out extensive public consultation work on the site, including a series of exhibitions. A master plan for the area, which stretches from behind the Tesco superstore to the edge of Waldingfield Road, was expected to be delivered shortly.
But now it has emerged that Redrow has withdrawn, leaving the future of the project in doubt. Last night, a spokesman for the company said they would not be commenting on the decision at the present time. However, Suffolk County Council has pledged to continue with the proposed scheme.
Redrow is the second developer to pull out of Chilton Woods. The county council’s previous partner, Ashwells, was also forced to withdraw after it went into receivership.
But according to Chilton Parish Council chairman Peter Clifford, who has been heavily involved with the scheme during the past 10 years, the current plans will be impossible to implement without a developer.
He said: “I am extremely disappointed that once again we have lost the proposed developer for Chilton Woods, especially after local people have spent dozens of unpaid hours trying to aid the developer and Suffolk County Council in developing a viable masterplan.
“Even more annoying is that the county council has known that Redrow was no longer interested for at least three weeks, but failed to share this information with other interested partners.
“Chilton Parish Council only found out accidentally on Friday after a letter to Babergh District Council from the county council emerged in relation to an ongoing core strategy inquiry taking place in Hadleigh, which is due to discuss Chilton Woods.
“Clearly the departure of a key developer changes the whole approach to the matter, and the lack of notice leaves us no time to prepare and consult accordingly.”
Mr Clifford also criticised the county council for not divulging the development before an all-day transport consultation for the Sudbury area 10 days ago, during which the possible impact of Chilton Woods on the town’s transport system was explored.
Last night, the county council declined to comment specifically on Redrow’s decision to withdraw or the circumstances surrounding it. But a spokesman said: “As landowners, we remain committed to seeing development on the Chilton Woods site. We believe that development is viable there and will continue to pursue that end.”
The current proposals for Chilton Woods include 25 hectares of residential land, 24 hectares of employment land and 74 hectares for community facilities, green and public space, and a new school.
Jenny Antill, district councillor for the development area, said she feared important aspects of the plans would now have to change to make it “viable” for a new developer.
She added: “At first sight it seems that the county council remains committed to the general principles of developing the site all in one go and in a holistic, sustainable manner. But they are now proposing some small changes, the most significant of which appears to be the removal of some 1.6 hectares of land for community use. There is obviously some concern that this deletion at a very late stage will prove to be the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ and that further community gain will be sacrificed to support the financial viability of the scheme.
“This would be a pity because local residents and councillors have on the whole made little or no objection to the Chilton Woods proposals because they believed that the county had a clear and attractive vision of what was to be achieved at the site - a distinct, well planned, self-contained community that would provide Chilton residents with much needed community assets.”
Chilton Woods was proposed and adopted in the last Local Plan in 2003. It is included in Babergh District Council’s current Core Strategy and Redrow was working with the authority on the plans. Nobody from Babergh was available to comment over the weekend.