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‘Dangerous precedent’ set by home-building proposals near Bury St Edmunds?

PUBLISHED: 08:00 31 December 2015

West Suffolk House in Bury, the Council Public Services Village.

West Suffolk House in Bury, the Council Public Services Village.

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Concern at a move to increase the number of homes in a rural area near Bury St Edmunds has been voiced by a borough councillor.

Terry Clements told his fellow St Edmundsbury councillors the council risked setting a ‘dangerous precedent’ by amending housing figures published in its local plan document Vision 2031.

Around 60 new homes could now be built at Erskine Lodge, in Great Whelnetham, instead of the 20 originally planned.

This is bigger than one development in one village,” said Mr Clements at a full borough council meeting.

“Without proper consideration this will leave us open to speculative development – one of the reasons we were under pressure to get Vision 2031 through and approved by the planning inspector.”

However, despite Mr Clements’ pleas councillors voted in favour of amending the development brief for the site.

An initial development brief for the site was thrown out earlier in the year, with concerns about the amount of development and a potential risk of increased surface water flooding.

However, developers promoting the site have since come back with an updated brief which was approved this December. The developers told the council they addressed Mr Clements’ concerns by saying the site would be developed in two separate phases, with several constraints.

The Conservative cabinet believed the development brief was acceptable with the recommended amendment and the council duly voted in favour.

However Mr Clements, himself a Conservative and a former cabinet member, remained unconvinced.

“You can, or should be able to see, that I have tried to get a proper compromise and work this through with local support,” said Mr Clements, who represents the Horringer and Whelnetham ward.

“Why then are we looking to put this through and totally disregard Vision 2031?”

He described the challenge to the Vision 2031 numbers as a “dangerous precedent” for future development in rural areas around Bury.

He said planning and development control was “not easy” and there were “nuances and aesthetics” that needed taking into account with a development such as at Erskine Lodge.

However, planning officers at the council have said constraints could ultimately result in the development being less than the 60 homes envisaged. There will also be a full assessment of flooding potential at the planning application stage.

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David Vincent

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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.

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