Builder reveals plans for 800 homes
UP to 800 new homes could be built on green fields in the heart of Suffolk, it has emerged.Leading housebuilder George Wimpey UK has approached planners with the proposals for land in the Stowmarket area.
By John Howard
UP to 800 new homes could be built on green fields in the heart of Suffolk, it has emerged.
Leading housebuilder George Wimpey UK has approached planners with the proposals for land in the Stowmarket area.
And despite being at an extremely early stage, such a major scheme is already dividing opinion.
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Environmentalists and villagers have voiced concerns about its impact, while others believe such a development could boost the local economy.
The housebuilder wants Mid Suffolk District Council to earmark land between Chilton Fields and Onehouse for new homes in its Local Plan - the planning blueprint for the area.
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Senior council officers said if it got the go-ahead a country park or landscaping could be created to act as a buffer between Stowmarket and neighbouring Onehouse.
Stephen Andrews, Local Plans manager at the district council, said the houses would go on predominantly agricultural land - and given the current rules on how many can be built on land, that would mean up to 800 new homes.
He said: “We do not want people to be frightened by the proposal, it could be a good number of years away.
“We have also got to be very cautious about the way Stowmarket moves towards Onehouse and Great Finborough.''
Mr Andrews said if the George Wimpey's bid went forward they could be asked to include affordable houses in the new development, as well as homes for housing association tenants and for rent.
He said the company's bid to zone the land for housing would be looked at, alongside other bids for inclusion in the Local Plan.
The development could bring a major boost to the local economy and comes as Stowmarket has already seen many new homes built as it proves a popular town with good road and rail links.
But Arlene Cruickshanks, chairwoman of Onehouse Parish Council, said villagers wanted to retain their community's identity and fears they could become a suburb of Stowmarket.
She said: “We would come all the closer to Stowmarket and it would destroy our village identity. I can't allay villagers' fears over this at the moment.
“People want to keep a gap between Stowmarket and the village, we would become a suburb of Stowmarket.''
Andrew Stringer, a Green mid Suffolk district councillor, said: “I'm not happy about putting that amount of housing near a little village like Onehouse.
“I understand the pressures that there is a need to build all these houses, but this is almost exclusively a green field site and wraps round an historic pauper's graveyard. It will mean the green fields the villagers see to their north and east will go. I am very uneasy about this.''
A spokeswoman for George Wimpey UK said they felt unable to comment on the plans yesterday, because it is at such a very early stage.