Villagers 'no confidence' petition in council planners over houses row
PUBLISHED: 16:19 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 03 July 2019
A community battling developers over controversial plans to build new homes in Bures, near Sudbury, has recorded 'a vote of no confidence' in council planners.
Villagers have been fighting the six-house development on Cuckoo Hill for five years after a row over the height of two of the new homes.
Now, they have launched a petition recording a vote of no confidence in the planning department at Babergh District Council "to deal fairly, correctly, and in timely fashion" with the application by The Stemar Group to convert the site of an old slaughter house.
They are calling for any decisions affecting the scheme to be made only by the council's planning committee.
So far nearly 200 people have signed the motion on the 38 Degrees political atcivism website.
It was launched by Kenn Butcher, chairman of the Keep Bures Beautiful Community Action Group.
He said he had taken the step because of villagers' concerns about the case and the lack of any enforcement by the council.
"The councillors have been very supportive but the council officers and their reports indicate a general drift towards accepting things," he said.
"These houses would loom over everything in what is a conservation area.
"It's just ridiculous that this has taken as long as it has - how much longer can it go on?"
The row started after the application was granted planning permission in 2014.
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However a condition required the houses should not be a certain height above surrounding landmarks - to meet this condition, the ground some of the houses would be built on would have to be lowered.
The land was then sold to a developer who built the houses - and while the houses met the planning guidelines the land was not lowered first, resulting in two of the houses being too high.
Residents reported this to the council in 2017 and planning officers who inspected the site agreed they were too high.
The developer then applied to allow the houses to remain as built by altering the original permission, but the council's planning committee refused this last August.
As there was only a single permission for the site of six houses, the whole development was subsequently in breach.
The developer has now submitted three applications seeking permission for the four plots that are not above their permitted height.
These will be decided by members of Babergh's planning committee, in a public meeting later this year.
A spokesman for Babergh District Council said: "We have dealt with applications on this site over the past five years and it is clear that it has become a controversial development.
"At every stage at which a decision could be taken by Planning Committee Members it has been, in open meetings which the public have been able to attend.
"The current applications, seeking planning permission for four of the plots, will likewise be considered in open committee where residents will be welcome to attend and speak.
"We always welcome petitions from our residents, and when it is submitted it will be put before members in an open meeting.
"Throughout this process we have been open and transparent, allowing all parties to witness decisions being made, and we will continue to be so in resolving the current live applications."