Concerns over height of new Bures homes raised in parliament by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge
PUBLISHED: 10:19 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:26 18 May 2018
A row over the height of six new homes in a picturesque village has led to calls from a Suffolk MP for a review of retrospective planning permission.
Residents claim the homes in Bures, which is located on the Suffolk/Essex border, are being built taller than agreed and that it highlights flaws in the planning system.
James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, said the case had “caused great dismay” in the village and across his constituency.
Plans for the six home development, behind Clare and James Frewin’s Grade II-listed house on Cuckoo Hill, were approved in February 2015 and building work commenced in March last year.
Mrs Frewin said she contacted Babergh District Council and a planning enforcement case was opened in October 2017.
The height increase was confirmed by the developer as 1.7m (5.5ft) in January before an independent survey, commissioned by residents, found the houses to be 2.6m (8.5ft) higher than approved.
Mrs Frewin said: “The site was not cleared properly and excavated earth and concrete was just spread around.
“As a result, the ground height across the site was raised substantially and the houses have been positioned closer to our street, Cuckoo Hill, and closer to our property.
“The first floor windows are the height of a three-storey building, just 8m from our kitchen windows and 4m from our garden, which is extremely distressing.”
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Cartlidge said: “Although planning is generally the key responsibility of the planning authority, this is an issue for parliament because it concerns a loophole in retrospective planning that has caused great distress to my constituents Clare and James Frewin.
“The key thing is that all we can do in this situation is ask the council to request that the developer seek retrospective planning permission.
“It is true that in theory the council could put a stop notice on the development, but the problem there is that if the developer gets planning permission, they can sue for any damages resulting from the stop notice. Obviously, therefore, the council is very reluctant to use it.
“I would like to see some kind of review of retrospective planning permission.”
Babergh District Council says a new planning application has been submitted to vary the permitted height of the development.
A Babergh spokesman said: “Since planning permission was originally issued the site has changed ownership.
“The new owner is working to implement the planning permission, however after work began at existing ground level some residents contacted Babergh expressing concern the completed development would exceed the height specified in the original planning permission.
“Our planning enforcement team investigated and found these fears were well founded, and that the development would be higher than the original permission specified.
“As a result a planning application has been submitted to Babergh District Council to vary the permitted height of the development.
“This application is currently under consideration and will be determined in due course.
“Anyone is welcome to submit their comments via firstname.lastname@example.org, and the application will be considered on its merits.”
This newspaper contacted Stephen Dixon, one of the listed directors of the Stemar Group on Companies House, for comment.