Final day of inquiries for 263 new homes wraps up in Framlingham

The view across from Brick Lane to Framlingham where you can see Framlingham College (l to r) St Mic

The view across from Brick Lane to Framlingham where you can see Framlingham College (l to r) St Michaels Church and Framlingham Castle.

A decision on whether to allow more than 260 new homes to be built in a historic Suffolk market town hangs in the balance as an appeal inquiry came to a close yesterday.

Inspector John Braithwaite will now have to weigh up more than two weeks’ worth of evidence to decide whether to permit the two developments, both in Framlingham, the first a 163 home scheme in Fairfield Road, put forward by Taylor Wimpey, and another 100 home development in Mount Pleasant proposed by Persimmon Homes. Both developments were refused planning permission by Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) last February, going against officer recommendations for approval - a point of defence made by both developers during the inquiry.

The council’s lead argument is that it can now demonstrate a five year supply of housing land, after the government targets required 7,900 homes to be built in the district by 2027 - 350 of those in Framlingham.

Representing SCDC, Harriet Townsend said: “Not only has Framlingham delivered 111 new homes since 2010 but there is permission for another 229 on a range of sites - brownfield, greenfield and small sites around the town.”

Framlingham Residents Association (FRAm) has been formally representing the opposition of residents. Representing FRAm, Lisa Foster said: “The inquiry was generally well attended, demonstrating how important the decisions on these appeal schemes are to the community.”

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Among the key objections to the Fairfield Road site by SCDC and FRAm has been its impact on views of the town’s three principle assets - Framlingham Castle, Framlingham College and St Michael’s Church. It is argued that a footpath which runs between Brick Lane and Fairfield Road offers the only viewpoint of all three monuments together, a view which would be lost to the development.

“These viewpoints afford an opportunity to view the three heritage assets together as a collection, an assemblage. That is what makes it rare,” said Ms Foster.

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However, speaking on behalf of Taylor Wimpey, Hereward Phillpot said that Historic England, formerly English Heritage, had not opposed the plans and added: “If the inspector concludes that there is some less than substantial harm, it would be minor at worst. Any such harm would be heavily outweighed by the substantial public benefits that this development would provide.

“This housing is much needed in this district. It includes 54 affordable units. This includes two wheelchair units for which there is an identified need in the area.

“The irony is that far from the development causing harm to the functioning of Framlingham as a sustainable settlement, it would bring about substantial benefits to its longer term prosperity amd economic health.”

Mr Phillpot said there was expected to be consumer spending on retail and leisure services of £3.5m in Framlingham and the surrounding area, while Tom Cosgrove, on behalf of Persimmon Homes, said over £2m was expected from Mount Pleasant, along with additional income from council tax, the new homes bonus and the community infrastructure levy (CIL).

A date for the final decision to be issued has not been announced.

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