Community leaders urged to ‘think again’ over homes at St Felix School, Reydon
- Credit: Archant
Protesters are hoping public opinion will persuade community leaders to “think again” over moves to use school playing fields for 69 new homes – and to oppose key elements of the project.
More than 110 people attended a public meeting organised by RAGE (Reydon Action Group for the Environment), near Southwold, to oppose plans by St Felix School to sell land for development.
The school has already been granted outline consent for the housing to raise more than £4million for improvements to ensure its future.
The proposals – given the go-ahead in principle by Waveney District Council – generated more than 200 objections with a wide range of concerns, including the impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and potential “major issues” for infrastructure-related services.
The RAGE meeting at Reydon Village Hall was told the plans were contrary to local and national planning policy but had been provisionally approved on the basis of being “enabling development” to permit the school to raise the cash needed for its programme of maintenance and improvements to facilities and buildings.
The meeting was told the vote by Waveney planning committee was only the start of the process because a legal agreement to stuipulate how the money generated would be spent would be referred back to councillors and because a separate planning application would have to be made for a new playing field on an equestrian cross country course, described as a “sensitive wildlife area” and part of a County Wildlife Site.
As the current application is for outline planning permission, there would also have to be further applications to approve the detail.
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Residents at the public meeting voted almost unanimously to oppose the proposed development at each step and to urge that the further planning application to build the new playing field should be decided by the full planning committee rather than by officers.
Stephen Chessher, acting chairman of RAGE said: “The fact that over 110 people turned out to oppose this development sends a powerful message to Waveney planners that they should think again and reverse this appalling decision to allow a large housing estate in the AONB.”
He said: “It will mean the permanent loss of a valuable part of the AONB and most of the houses built will inevitably become second homes which Southwold and Reydon do not need.
“Worse still, developers will take this as a green light to build elsewhere in the AONB.”
Saint Felix School officials say there is a long list of projects “necessary to ensure its continued sustainable operation”.
These include upgrading of computer systems; refurbishment of science labs; modernisation of boarding houses; new central heating system; and provision of a sand-based hockey pitch; new sports changing room; new rugby pitch and athletics facilities; and upgrading of its swimming pool.