Home boom fears eased

FEARS of up to 700 new homes being built in and around a Suffolk town are unfounded, a packed public meeting was told last night .It was called in Needham Market amid concerns large areas of land could be earmarked for housing the Mid Suffolk District Council's local plan – its 10-year planning blueprint.

By John Howard

FEARS of up to 700 new homes being built in and around a Suffolk town are unfounded, a packed public meeting was told last night .

It was called in Needham Market amid concerns large areas of land could be earmarked for housing the Mid Suffolk District Council's local plan - its 10-year planning blueprint.

Several hundred people attended the meeting at Needham Market Community Centre, but were told the final number of new homes would be nearer 100.


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Developers have asked Mid Suffolk council to consider earmarking large areas of land around Needham Market for housing and employment.

But David Ellis, head of environment and planning, said: "We will not have 700 houses but one or two hundred could be possible. No decisions have been made but I can say that it will be nearer to 100 than 700."

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The meeting was chaired by Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley and included a panel of officers from the district council and Needham Town mayor Paula Batchelor.

David Sparkes, senior planning officer said: "The district council has to provide a certain amount of housing. People want to move into the area, particularly from London, Essex partly, because house prices are lower.

"Needham Market is the second largest town in the district, and developers will be arguing that the town should expect some development.

"There is a need for affordable housing for young people."

Mr Ruffley said: "There are a lot of scary numbers, one is that there will be up to 700 houses in the immediate vicinity of this village or town. I worry about new development.

"We do not want to concrete over Suffolk, what makes Suffolk special is it is very pretty, and we do not want it changed beyond recognition.

"But we must be grown ups and if we want homes for our children and grandchildren, we need to build new houses.

"It's just a case of where, the architecture, and the scale of it. We can't set our faith against new houses. Stowmarket looks like it will take the lions share of new homes required over the next 13 years, but Needham Market might have to take 100 homes."

But residents spoke of their concerns about traffic, loss of wildlife, over-development, and average-quality homes being built in their special and attractive town.

Mid Suffolk council will be making its decision on what land to zone for housing within the local plan during the summer.

Despite officers' assurances of only one or two hundred homes, developers can still appeal and may yet win permission for more.

Even if land is zoned for housing within the local plan, those successful developers would still need to apply for planning permission before they can build any new properties.

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