Framlingham: Politicians struggle to allay concerns over ‘obscene and vulgar’ housing
- Credit: Archant
Politicians have struggled to assure voters of their ability to stop what one described as “obscene, wrong and vulgar” housing being built in their town.
People living in Framlingham voiced far-reaching concerns about the possible impact of hundreds of new homes on the town’s infrastructure, during a meeting with their councillors and MP on Friday.
Many of the meeting’s 200 attendees felt there was little they or their civic leaders could do to halt the tide of development and its effect on roads, sewerage and amenities such as schools and doctors surgery.
There was particular concern over the latest application from Taylor Wimpey to build 163 homes at Fairfield Road and about the removal of affordable housing from Hopkins Homes’ Station Road application.
Christopher Hudson, who is one of Framlingham’s district councillors, Stephen Burroughes, its county councillor, and Dan Poulter, the local MP, all spoke passionately about protecting the town and its infrastructure from excessive development.
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Mr Hudson said it was “obscene, wrong and vulgar” to build on greenfield sites in the town when there were brownfield options available.
Mr Burroughes promised to fight to retain what made Framlingham “special”. And Dr Poulter insisted all developers should be paying their fair share towards infrastructure, adding that it was “completely unacceptable” young people could not find affordable housing in the town where they grew up.
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The Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP called for “joined-up thinking” between the authorities to make the appropriate demands on developers to give the community the new services it needed as part of Section 106 agreements.
He added, however, that Suffolk Coastal District Council’s lack of a validated local plan for housing presented a planning “free-for-all” which developers were able to capitalise on.
Faced with such problems and instances of local objections to housing applications being overruled by the Planning Inspectorate, a number of people at the meeting in St Michael’s Rooms questioned how effective the politicians’ pledges could be.
“We are at the mercy of the developers,” said one of the public speakers. “What in reality can you do to guarantee these things won’t go ahead – you can’t make the developers go away.”
Dr Poulter was warned that unless he was “seen to be more effective” he might face the “Carswell effect” during next May’s elections, referring to UKIP’s recent success at the Clacton by-election.
The MP, who cannot vote in local planning matters, promised he would back the community whenever a matter was referred to the secretary of state, as he had done with a recent solar farm battle in Hacheston.
Mr Burroughes and Mr Hudson also pledged they would represent the community’s views when voting on application.
But besides their one vote each, the only further support the councillors could give was to advise the public to have its say in the planning process wherever possible.