Homes get first vote of approval

THE controversial multi-million pound scheme to build more than 200 houses at Felixstowe's south seafront received its first vote of approval yesterday.

THE controversial multi-million pound scheme to build more than 200 houses at Felixstowe's south seafront received its first vote of approval yesterday.

Felixstowe Town Council's plans committee passed the ambitious proposals to build 209 homes in blocks of flats up to five storeys high and a package of leisure attractions.

But the council made a series of recommendations attached to their acceptance of the scheme and the final decisions will be taken by the district council, who are spearheading the scheme with Bloor Homes.

Only four town councillors were allowed to vote on the town's biggest planning application for decades. Three of them, Conservative councillors Mike Stokell, Mike Goodman and Cyril Webb were in favour, while Labour's Don Smith voted against.

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Other members of the plans committee were barred from voting because they had to declare a prejudicial interest as a member of the district council.

The full town council had debated the plans in front of about 100 members of the public last month at Langer Road primary school. A decision was deferred until yesterday while extra information was gathered on the proposals.

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Suffolk Coastal had given a special dispensation for district councillors who were members of the town council to vote at that meeting - but that dispensation did not apply to yesterday's meeting.

The plans committee will tell Suffolk Coastal there should be a higher percentage of affordable housing among the 209 properties than the proposed 10%, and a legal agreement is required to maintain sea defences in perpetuity.

Councillors also wanted repairs and conversion of the martello tower, earmarked for an art gallery, to be done before or during the building of the housing scheme. They want more toilets, beach showers, better refreshment provision, a water fountain, more litter and dog bins, an emergency telephone and disabled access to the new restaurant.

Traffic management is also considered appropriate to protect the amenity of residents already living in Manor Terrace and neighbouring roads after Dave Cawdron, a Liberal Democrat councillor, warned there would be 1600 extra two-way trips daily between 7am and 7pm, and the loss of 500 free spaces.

Cllr Cawdron added: ''The flats will blot out the martello tower so nobody will be able to see it from the road, they will be 50% higher than the martello tower.''

Cllr Smith said: ''I think the amount of housing should be reduced, and I can not support this particular scheme unless the housing is reduced.''

A warning was given by Cllr Goodman that if the scheme was deferred the government could insist that the housing density was increased. Cllr Webb said: ''I am highly delighted to know that the Coastwatch service will be maintained and looked after. We need more affordable housing so that young people can get onto the first rung of the ladder. 10% is something, but we could jump up and down with the district council to see if we can enhance that.''

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