Fear for villages in homes bombshell

VILLAGES in west Suffolk are to take hundreds more homes because major towns cannot cope with the scale of development originally planned for them, it has been revealed.

Lakenheath and Red Lodge are to become the parishes targeted as Forest Heath District Council sets out its preferred options for the 10,100 new homes the Government says the area should accommodate by 2031.

The council’s proposals, which are to go out to public consultation, have been largely backed by Government planning inspector Paul Crysell.

But because of concerns about the impact of housing growth in major towns such as Newmarket, with its horse industry, and Brandon, with its nearby population of the rare stone-curlew, larger parishes such as Lakenheath and Red Lodge are in line for hundreds of new homes.

Critics have voiced concern not only at the scale of development planned for key villages but also about whether vital infrastructure would be in place when the new homes are built.

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Under the council’s proposals Lakenheath would become a “key service centre” which could accommodate 924 dwellings. That figure is 250 more than the 670 target initially laid down for the village.

Red Lodge, the council claims, could accommodate 1,200 new homes – almost as many as the 1,472 planned for Newmarket, the 1,380 planned for Mildenhall or the 1,641 earmarked for Brandon.

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Red Lodge Liberal Democrat councillor Pat McCloud said he thought Red Lodge was getting “a bad deal.” He added: “The infrastructure is so slow in coming. As a key service centre Red Lodge will be expected to cater for the surrounding villages as well.

“For years the village has been promised infrastructure such as a major new shop. It has just not come through. It is absolute tosh.”

In his report on the council’s plans, planning inspector Paul Crysell said while most of the development would take place in Newmarket, Brandon and Mildenhall there were constraints as to how much housing could be placed in the first two towns because of shortages of suitable sites.

“The council’s strategy relies heavily on Red Lodge compensating for lower levels of development in other locations,” Mr Crysell said. “It is imperative that infrastructure and facilities are delivered to match the expanding population.”

Planning committee chairman Rona Burt said the effort which had gone into producing the proposals had been “amazing” and she was pleased the work had been completed on time and could now go out to public consultation.

A spokeswoman for the council said the preferred site options drawn up by the authority would now go out for eight weeks of public consultation. After that, comments will be reviewed and amendments, if any, will be made prior to the whole development plan package is sent off to the Secretary of State.

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