Glimmer of hope for Ganges campaigners
By Graham DinesPolitical EditorA CONTROVERSIAL plan to build 325 houses on the former HMS Ganges site will have to be approved by the Government following a full-scale public inquiry.
By Graham Dines
A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build 325 houses on the former HMS Ganges site will have to be approved by the Government following a full-scale public inquiry.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has overruled Babergh District Council's decision to give approval to the plan and has ordered an inspector to examine the project.
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A public inquiry will be held in the winter, which will give residents an opportunity to voice their concerns at the scale of the proposed Shotley development.
Rex Thake, chairman of Babergh District Council's development committee, which gave the planning permission, promised to co-operate fully with the inquiry and to explain “the rationale behind the decision”.
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Councillors ignored the advice of their officers and voted nine to three to give the project the green light because similar applications for housing in Hadleigh, Sudbury and Great Cornard had not had a notable adverse affect on the character of those areas.
Tim Yeo, South Suffolk MP, who led the calls for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's office to intervene, welcomed the inquiry.
“It was an eccentric decision of Babergh development committee to overrule their officers, ignore the county council's advice, and to dismiss the very well-founded objections of the local community. The proposed scale of the development is clearly against planning policy,” he said.
County and district councillors also objected to the plan and last week Suffolk County Council agreed unanimously to ask Whitehall to call in the proposal.
County councillors Kathy Pollard and Dave Wood said they were “delighted” villagers on the Shotley Peninsula had been given a second chance to put their views on the application.
“The decision to grant planning permission made them feel that their views had been completely ignored,” they said.
“We have always argued that the development is unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly and local services are inadequate.
“We recognise that something must be done on this site, but feel that 325 houses is far too many.”
Development company Haylink, which bought the site in 2003 with the original aim of building 500 homes, declined to comment.