Developers submit proposals for 560 homes in Felixstowe’s Gulpher Road countryside
- Credit: Archant
Developers are set to test the resolve of community leaders after submitting proposals for 560 new homes on farmland on the edge of Felixstowe.
The scheme – proposed by Christchurch Land and Estates (Felixstowe) Ltd for 77 acres of Heather and Jennifer Stennett’s land at Cowpasture Farm, off Candlet Road and Gulper Road – will also include a community centre, small convenience store, 10 acres of open space and play areas, 60-bed care home, 50 assisted living units, business premises, and 25 acres of wildlife corridors.
Suffolk Coastal council has already said the site has been analysed and is “not suitable” for development.
The council also says the land is not needed for housing as enough sites have been identified – either granted permission already or identified as suitable for housing – to provide the 1,760 new homes needed in the Felixstowe area over the next decade.
Now the council will be asked to make a formal decision on a scheme for the countryside it is keen to protect – and face the risk of an appeal if it refuses the project.
Christchurch says there are two key factors why the scheme should proceed – the council’s continuing lack of a five-year land supply for new housing and that the planners are working on outdated figures.
It says 11,000 new homes will be needed in Suffolk Coastal rather than 7,000, and that Felixstowe will be expected to take a proportion of these extra homes.
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Council officers are adamant that its land supply is 4.3 years at present but Christchurch’s consulants Pegasus claim it is only 1.7 years.
Felixstowe has a clear need for new homes with its population not increasing, young people forced to move away, and smaller households – empty-nesters, divorcees and single elderly people – occupying many family-sized properties.
In a report submitted to the council, Christchurch said: “It is accepted that the scheme would encroach in to the countryside, but Christchurch consider that there will be no material harm to the area’s character and appearance.
“The proposals would support economic growth by providing housing and creating jobs in local services.
“The scheme would also help meet a need for retirement properties and benefit the wider community by the provision of public open space and enhanced transport links.
“In terms of services, the proposal will support existing facilities in the town. The provision of up to 560 new dwellings will assist in maintaining school rolls and provide extra patronage for other community facilities.
“The development is also likely to provide a shift in the demographics of the town towards a younger vibrant community, making it more likely that younger people will not move away from Felixstowe in search of housing.”
The land’s current uses include a golf driving range and grazing for horses, and stretches from Gulpher Road to The Grove woodland.
Suffolk Coastal’s core strategy – approved by a government inspector – says the Gulpher Road area “provides a significant and widely-used variety of resources for both formal and informal recreation, which will be preserved, particularly where views exist to and from the Deben Estuary and the Coast and Heaths AONB”.