Controversial plans set to be rejected

PLANS for a 325-home development on the former HMS Ganges site look set to be refused planning permission.The controversial proposal for the former site of the naval training school in Shotley is to go before Babergh District Council's development committee on June 8.

PLANS for a 325-home development on the former HMS Ganges site look set to be refused planning permission.

The controversial proposal for the former site of the naval training school in Shotley is to go before Babergh District Council's development committee on June 8.

However the head of planning control has urged councillors to reject Haylink Ltd's plan on the basis that the development would be unsustainable and likely to increase the number of vehicles on the roads as residents travel to services, jobs and facilities.

He also has concerns about the disturbance to wildlife.


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Laurie Mayer, who has led the campaign against the plans as chairman of the Woolverstone Residents Association, said: "We are delighted. This is a fantastic step in the right direction as far as we're concerned.

"The councillors meet on June 8 and they could decide differently but this is a pretty powerful message.

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"We are a conservation village and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This plan would have meant a car passing through Woolverstone every two-and-a-half seconds.

"Woolverstone residents couldn't understand how that could be in the interest of a conservation area.

"We are not home and dry yet. We have read the report quite carefully and feel it is pretty fair and balanced.

"We all want something good for Shotley at the end of the day. We want a facility for kids down there but not a mega development on this scale.

"We hope Haylink will come back with a more imaginative scheme or someone else will come forward with a new plan."

It is the second time Haylink has submitted a plan for the site to the council. The original proposal was for 500 homes but it was halted in 2003 after Suffolk County Council said it was too big.

At the time, councillors recommended that road and other infrastructure improvements should be made before work on the development started.

Haylink then returned with a new plan last year, reducing the number of homes to 325, adding a community clubhouse and outlining improvements to the B1456, particularly at known accident blackspots.

However, the report shows the county council still has concerns about the development's scale. It wants the number of homes restricted to 200 and improvements to be made to highways, public transport and the ferry.

The parish councils local to the mainly brownfield site have also submitted their views, with Brantham the only one cited as backing the plans.

A total of 208 emails and letters of objection have been received, mainly from peninsula residents.

Sport England has opposed the loss of a playing field, and Suffolk Wildlife Trust said it has "significant concerns" about the impact on wildlife-rich areas.

In mitigation, the report says there is no reason for the development proposed to adversely affect the character of Shotley.

It says the plans would "more than overcome" all the housing needs in Shotley and, although it would increase the population by 55%, there were 1,800 naval cadets accommodated at the site at any one time under its previous use.

It adds: "At present the site is unused and largely unmaintained and if not found some beneficial use, may be expected to deteriorate into an increased state of dereliction."

Haylink were unavailable to comment last night.

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