Village defeats major house-builder in row over future development

Debenham's neighbourhood plan has won approval Picture: SIMON PARKER

Debenham's neighbourhood plan has won approval Picture: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk village has won a battle against one of the UK’s biggest house-builders over who decides its future development.

Dr Dan Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.

Dr Dan Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Debenham’s neighbourhood plan, which outlines a vision for the village, including new housing, has overcome objections by Taylor Wimpey, which had put forward its own proposals for 640 homes.

The village’s plan, which sets out three areas for future housing, won approval from an independent examiner, allowing it to progress to the next phase and a possible referendum early next year.

Examiner Janet Cheesley praised the plan, saying it was “well written” and presented a “clear vision for the parish”.

She dismissed Taylor Wimpey’s objections, outlined in a 160-page report, which claimed the village’s plan was in breach of national planning policies and criticised the site selection process.

Taylor Wimpey, which had already submitted plans for a 295-home development in the village, including a potential primary school or community building, also produced its own ‘Vision Document’ for Debenham.

The report, published in November 2017, proposed to develop sites around Gracechurch Street into an “exciting and sustainable new neighbourhood” of around 640 news homes, as well as green spaces.

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Debenham’s neighbourhood plan committee had dismissed development at the site selected by Taylor Wimpey, claiming it would have a negative impact on traffic, pollution, flooding and the village’s rural setting

Taylor Wimpey’s plans were also criticised by Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Daniel Poulter and Suffolk Preservation Society, while the neighbourhood plan’s three sites are said to have been met with “broad approval”.

Neighbourhood plan committee chairman Steve Palframan welcomed the examiner’s report. “Her expert advice and guidance to improving the plan will, I feel sure, prove invaluable,” he added.

Despite the progress of the neighbourhood plan, which will now go to Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) to decide on a referendum, Mr Palframan said he was concerned developers could still “exploit the system” to override its recommendations.

The committee said villages were vulnerable to speculative developments, particularly when planning authorities, including MSDC, missed housing targets.

A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said: “We have prepared a high-quality planning application to provide 295 much-needed new two, three, four and five-bedroom homes, including affordable housing, for the local area. Our proposals will be presented to Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning committee and we await confirmation of the committee date from officers. Should the development receive planning consent, we will set aside land for a new primary school and sporting/recreational facility for new residents and the wider community, as well as bringing other economic benefits to the local area.”