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Campaigners sound new warning after planners recommend approval of 263 homes in Framlingham despite community concerns

PUBLISHED: 10:45 11 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:45 11 February 2015

Framlingham Residents' Association (FRAm) members campaign against green field site development.  Chris Churcher,  Alexandra Lapot and  Vic Stanbrook

Framlingham Residents' Association (FRAm) members campaign against green field site development. Chris Churcher, Alexandra Lapot and Vic Stanbrook

Controversial plans to build more than 250 new homes in a Suffolk market town are being backed by officials - prompting campaigners to accuse them of “riding roughshod” over local people’s wishes.

Protesters in Framlingham say they are being left on the “sacrificial altar” of development, and are warning that other towns could also fall victim.

Planners from Suffolk Coastal have recommended the approval of housing developments for Fairfield Road and Mount Pleasant, which together represents 263 new homes for the town.

The plans are due to be decided at a planning committee on Monday.

The greenfield site developments have provoked fierce criticism from the Framlingham Residents Association (FRAm), which formed in opposition to the proposals and has held several demonstrations calling for their rejection.

Critics warn the recommendations may have repercussions for other towns.

They claim that failures of the planning authority to meet minimum housing targets has left it powerless to oppose controversial development.

Geoff Holdcroft, who is responsible for planning at SCDC, has acknowledged that officers are “mindful” of the housing targets, but stressed the council was “not rolling over” to unacceptable developments.

In Wenhaston, where SCDC approved 26 homes to be built near an area of outstanding natural beauty in January, people living in the village have raised similar concerns.

Wilson Harvey, a retired scientist who has lived in Wenhaston for the past 12 years, said the village had been told it only needed to deliver 5-15 new homes until 2027, and he was therefore “extremely worried” by the shift in policy.

Under the same forecasts, Framlingham was earmarked for 75-150 new houses, which means the new application for 263 homes, by SCDC’s own admission “more than meets” the allocation for that period.

A total of 73 letters of objection were submitted in response to Taylor Wimpey’s Fairfield Road application, and a further 17 to Persimmon Homes’ Mount Pleasant plans.

In a report to the committee, case officer Ben Woolnough says the 163-home development for Fairfield Road, including 53 affordable houses, open space and play area, would make a “considerable contribution” to the district’s five-year housing land supply – a key Government requirement, without which the council says it has “very limited scope” to defend against applications.

Case officer Kathryn Oelman, in her report on the 100-home Mount Pleasant application, including 33 affordable houses, also refers frequently to the five-year deliverable land supply.

FRAm chairman Christopher Sharpe, who held the group’s final rallying call in the town on Saturday, said: “The planning department is riding roughshod over the wishes of the town, simply because there’s an anomaly at the moment with the land bank and the Local Plan.

“It’s apparent that this is being given precedence over what’s being desired by the townfolk.”

“Framlingham has found itself on the sacrificial altar of development.”

Though disappointed with the recommendations, Mr Sharpe said he was hopeful the councillors in the committee would refuse the applications.

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EADT writer David Vincent has more than 40 years experience in Suffolk. He has explored the highways and byeways of East Anglia, meeting homeowners, developers and estate agents from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh and Colchester to Diss.