Fury at

By Jonathan BarnesTHE opponents of a plan to build 325 homes on a former naval training base expressed their dismay last night after council planning officers backed the project.

By Jonathan Barnes

THE opponents of a plan to build 325 homes on a former naval training base expressed their dismay last night after council planning officers backed the project.

Suffolk County Council officers were accused of “letting the people down” after advising it should not oppose the plan to redevelop the former HMS Ganges site in Shotley Gate, near Ipswich.

Developers want to turn the 24-hectare site into a major housing complex, but residents have fought a long campaign to safeguard the peninsula against the plan.

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Now county council planning officers - who looked at the transport and services infrastructure - have recommended that its executive committee should not oppose the planning application, subject to a number of conditions.

They include provisions for increased public transport, improvements to key junctions, the creation of extra school places and an enhanced ferry service to Harwich and Felixstowe.

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Babergh District Council has the final say on the development, but the county council's verdict is likely to have a major impact on the success of the project.

But residents fear increased traffic caused by the development will put unbearable pressure on roads - particularly the B1456 to Shotley - and damage the quality of life in nearby villages.

Tim Yeo, South Suffolk MP, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the county council's recommendation.

“It was clear that if the county council objected on transport grounds, the borough council would reject the plans,” he added.

“I believe the road that goes through Woolverstone and Chelmondiston will be overloaded and it will be very damaging for those villages.

“Everyone agrees some development is desirable at the HMS Ganges site, but the scale of this development is too big.

“You look to the county council to protect these villages - they are the last line of defence and they have let people down.”

Former BBC presenter Lawrie Mayer, who is chairman of the Woolverstone Residents Association, said: “I feel it is an irresponsible and dangerous decision that will lead to more deaths on the roads and the destruction of the way of life in our villages.

“I hope the executive committee will have more sense and that it's not a done deal yet.”

David Wood, county councillor for the Peninsula division, added: “The infrastructure of the Shotley Peninsula will not be able to cope with a development of this size.

“Local residents have made their fears known and the greatest concern appears to be around highway safety issues.”

Julian Swainson, county council executive committee member, said the report provided a long list of requirements for the developer, Haylink Ltd, to meet if it was to proceed with the application.

Mr Swainson added he was sympathetic to many of the residents' concerns and expected a “considerable” debate when the matter went before the executive committee on April 5.

Babergh District Council is due to discuss the planning application at Shotley Parish Hall on June 8. No-one from Haylink Ltd was available for comment last night.


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