Plans for 210-home estate given green light after marathon meeting

A map of Thurston. The area in red is where a decision for more than 210-homes have been approved fo

A map of Thurston. The area in red is where a decision for more than 210-homes have been approved for land off Ixworth Road. Areas in blue have already had housing plans approved. The area in yellow is where plans for 58 homes have been withdrawn. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

Plans for a new 210-home estate in Thurston have been granted after a three-hour long meeting.

The proposals for land east of Ixworth Road in Thurston by Gladman Developments were originally pushed back by Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning referrals committee in January because further highways analysis was needed at key junctions and updated plans for rail station improvements were needed.

However, after “significant upgrades” were made to the plans by the developer and council officer the committee resolved to approve the plans, voting 10 to 4.

Committee chairman Matthew Hicks said the application had come “a long way” since January, praising the committee for their work.

However, Harry Richardson Thurston district councillor, said the plans conflicted with the Thurston Neighbourhood Plan.

“The village already has facilitated significant development,” he said.

“I think it will have a significant impact on local amenities.”

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The plans will see a mixture of one, two, three and four bed homes built on the land.

The application has since been amended to provide more funding to the local community, and to alter road safety measures.

An extra £30,000 has been put aside to allow for an improvement feasibility study for Thurston Station.

Another £31,500, or £150 per dwelling, has been added to the community investment levy to help fund a bicycle discount scheme for the estate.

Stuart Carvel, planning manager for Gladmans Developments, said during the meeting that the development would have “no severe highways impact” and would “improve safety across the village”.

He said: “This development will provide community infrastructure that no other plan has done to date, including extensive play area community green spaces as well as the 74 affordable dwellings for real people with a real need for a home.

“Gladmans is committed to providing all these facilities and benefits for all of those who live in Thurston already.”

The committee debated the plans extensively, with the biggest sticking point being the weight given to Thurston’s neighbourhood plan and the district council’s emerging local plan.

Mr Hicks said: “This was a difficult decision on an application which has addressed concerns previously raised in January to offer further community benefits – recognising that we were previously considering refusing the application – but has still been met with opposition from local residents.

“After a lengthy debate the majority of the committee voted in favour of approving outline planning permission, providing the applicant meets the conditions set out.

“Proposals meet our council’s ambition for more sustainable transport options for our communities, with public transport links and local schools within walking distance of the site.”

However, Andrew Stringer, a member of the committee and Green Group shadow for planning, said that the decision questions teh value of neighbourhood plans.

He said: “We are seeing the demise of neighbourhood plans as a respected part of the decision-making process, a far cry from the rhetoric about giving control of development to local communities.

“In this case the development was made more attractive thanks to improvements gained after earlier committee resistance to the scheme.

“Council planners and members need to be more robust in protecting local communities by refusing poor development which lacks infrastructure or is in the wrong place.”

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