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Lakenheath: Parish council threatens legal action over plans to double the size of village by building 1,000 new homes

PUBLISHED: 10:34 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 16:48 16 May 2014

Scenes of Lakenheath village. The High Street.

Scenes of Lakenheath village. The High Street.

Archant

A village that could double in size with the prospect of more than 1,000 houses has threatened legal action against a west Suffolk district council.

The bold move from Lakenheath Parish Council is a serious reinforcement of its calls for Forest Heath to take a strategic view of the village’s future, with four applications totalling 1,057 new homes currently on the table.

The first proposed development, for 67 homes off Briscoe Way, was due to be decided on Wednesday, but was dramatically withdrawn by Forest Heath just hours before the meeting after the parish council’s threat of a judicial review.

Suffolk County Council has also backed calls for a multi-agency meeting before any plans for Lakenheath are decided, in a bid to ensure infrastructure such as schooling is in place to cope with the influx of housing.

A village resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Forest Heath seems to think if they build lots of houses, the infrastructure will come, but you can’t magic-up a new school, health system, or sewage system in that time. It’s a total lack of joined-up thinking.

“The point we’re trying to make is, we don’t want to go through this process. All they had to do is sit round a table - it’s ridiculous.

“We don’t want to go down this route, but when you negotiate you show the other side you will push it to the limit as necessary.”

The application for Briscoe Way comes from Bennetts. There are also two from Elveden Farms, including one for 750 homes, a primary school and health centre, as well as another from Forest Heath council leader James Waters.

Richard Buxton, one of the top public and environmental law firms in the country, is acting on Lakenheath Parish Council’s behalf.

The solicitor’s letter issued to Forest Heath says the council officers’ report for the application “misrepresents the view of Suffolk County Council” and that “the main concern is the lack of overall strategic planning for this sensitive rural area”.

Forest Heath was threatened with a judicial review earlier this year by Persimmon Homes over housing plans in Kentford, while campaigners against the Hatchfield Farm proposals in Newmarket successfully challenged the council’s local plan back in 2010.

A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council said: “We have received both a holding objection from Suffolk County Council and a letter on behalf of Lakenheath Parish Council indicating that they may seek a judicial review if the development was approved.

“We had no option other than to withdraw the application following the holding objection which we only received on Wednesday, on the day of the development control committee meeting.

“Both the holding objection and the letter on behalf of the parish council will now be considered in detail before the application goes back to the committee in due course.”

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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.