First day of Framlingham appeal inquiries hear heritage views could be “obliterated”

Public hearing at the Suffolk Coastal District Council offices regarding the building of 263 new hom

Public hearing at the Suffolk Coastal District Council offices regarding the building of 263 new homes in Framlingham. - Credit: Archant

A planning ‘D-Day’ for a historic market town in east Suffolk is fast approaching as public inquiries for appeals which could bring 263 homes at once got underway yesterday.

Planning inspector John Braithwaite

Planning inspector John Braithwaite - Credit: Archant

A planning ‘D-Day’ for a historic market town is fast approaching as planning appeals which could bring 263 homes to a corner of east Suffolk got underway yesterday.

Suffolk Coastal District Council’s (SCDC) Melton Hill offices were packed out yesterday as residents demonstrated their opposition to Taylor Wimpey’s plans to build 163 homes in Fairfield Road, and Persimmon Homes’ plans for 100 houses at Mount Pleasant.

Within the developments, 33 homes at Mount Pleasant would be affordable, and 53 at Fairfield Road.

Both developments were refused by SCDC’s planning committee in February, going against recommendations to approve the schemes.

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The council has withdrawn its argument that the developments were not sustainable and has since approved plans for a second application to build 95-homes at Mount Pleasant, which was submitted by Persimmon Homes.

Representing SCDC, Harriet Townsend said the council had now allocated its five-year housing land supply - national policy which commits areas to build a specific number of homes to meet expected housing need - and these two housing sites were no longer required to help it reach that target.

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“The council can now demonstrate a five year housing supply,” said Mrs Townsend. “That is the first time it has been able to do so since the care strategy was adopted. The identified supply does provide a range of housing within the district.”

Both SCDC and Framlingham Residents Association (FRAm), which is making representations under Rule 6 of the Inquiries Procedure Rules, giving it the same status as all other involved parties, argue that Fairfield Road provides an important public access to heritage which would be lost to the development.

Speaking at the inquiry yesterday Lisa Foster, from Richard Buxton solicitors representing FRAm, said that eradicated public rights of way through the site would cause views to “jewels in the townscape’s crown” to be “obliterated in full”.

Among FRAm’s biggest objections to the plans is that local transport links were inadequate to support the extent of growth 263 new homes and their residents would bring. However, both Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey said adequate facilities were already in place and would be enhanced as part of the developments.

Addressing inspector John Braithwaite on behalf of Persimmon Homes, Tom Cosgrove added: “For Framlingham, the mix and balance of such provision will constitute a significant contribution to meeting housing needs both of existing residents as well as accommodating future residents and will assist the economic growth of the town.

“The council has now indicated it does not dispute the principle of residential development on the site...[and] takes no issue with the impact of the proposal on the character and appearance of the wider area.

“They have not identified any other sites which might be preferable to this one.”

Hereward Phillpot, on behalf of Taylor Wimpey, added: “It is important to emphasise the very clear recommendation of the council’s professional officers was not only that this development should be granted planning permission, but also that there were no reasonable grounds on which planning permission could be refused.

“The council is unable to demonstrate that it has a five year supply of housing as required by the National Planning Policy Framework.

“The design was developed in consultation and discussion with the council’s officers.

“Development such as this provides important opportunities to improve the town’s infrastructure, and its overall economic health.”

The inquiry is expected to finish on February 3.

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