Campaigners slam extra homes plan

CONSULTANTS' proposals to turn three East Anglian towns into “key centres” for housing growth have been labelled “frightening and unnecessary” by countryside campaigners.

Laurence Cawley

CONSULTANTS' proposals to turn three East Anglian towns into “key centres” for housing growth have been labelled “frightening and unnecessary” by countryside campaigners.

Based on expected housing needs in the lead up to 2031 the study - by private consultancy firm Arup -cites Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester as “key centres with the potential to accommodate regional scale growth”.

The report states that those areas highlighted for regional scale growth could see single developments which reach or exceed 20,000 homes.

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It is understood the homes mentioned in the report are over and above the 123,400 already planned for Essex and 58,000 for Suffolk in the lead up to 2021, of which 8,000 are for Bury and 15,400 for Ipswich.

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA), which published the report, said the list of locations did not mean either it or councils in the area supported the study's proposals.

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But Richard Ward, director of the Suffolk Preservation Society, said if new homes were built, new roads, schools and hospitals would be needed.

He said: “These recommendations would have a far reaching and extremely damaging impact on the quality of life for those who live and work in Suffolk.

“What evidence is there that this enormous growth rate could be delivered without damage to the environment? We feel that this proposal does nothing for the local population, and has instead been drafted solely to meet artificially-imposed Government targets. We can see no justification whatsoever for progressing with this plan.

“The county must fight these proposals. Combined with the figurers for additional housing in the regional plan review, Suffolk is at a watershed for the survival of its very essence and character. If these combined proposals go forward, the county we all cherish will be lost - and once lost, it is gone forever.”

In relation to Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester the report said growth would most likely take the form of urban extensions rather than major new settlements. It said Bury St Edmunds' long term future could be to take new homes which might previously have been built in the Cambridge area.

EERA planning panel chairman Derrick Ashley said: “I want to stress that what has been published is a list of potential locations for new development and it does not mean that the assembly, or local authorities, are supportive of the study's proposals.

“The Assembly and its member councils will need to carefully consider the benefits and impacts of major developments outlined in the study, together with other evidence, to come up with different options for growth for public debate later in the year.”

Future proposals for the region will be put out to public consultation later this year.

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