Legal advisors' warning over council's homes decision

The Neighbourhood Plan should have taken primacy when considering the application for Victoria Mill Road

The Neighbourhood Plan should have taken primacy when considering the application for Victoria Mill Road - Credit: Google Maps

Legal advisors have warned a council that it should not have overruled a Neighbourhood Plan when approving controversial plans for new homes, prompting calls for the decision to be reconsidered. 

East Suffolk Council (ESC) gave the go ahead for the 49 new homes off Victoria Mill Road, Framlingham, in January, despite objections from the town council, 108 residents and 430 people who signed a petition against the scheme. 

In particular, they were concerned about the "grossly unsafe" winding road, which they said was narrow with right-angle bends and pavements that were not wide enough for wheelchairs. 

The number of homes and the access to the site were other worries. 

Following the approval, the town council’s planning committee sought advice from legal firm Leigh Day, which claimed in a letter that the district council had "erred" by failing to take into account whether the proposal accorded with the local development plan. 

The solicitors said the Framlingham Neighbourhood Plan should have had "statutory primacy", but the council did not give it sufficient weight during its deliberations on the plans submitted by Leaper Land Promotions.  

Simon Garrett, the committee’s chair, said: “Framlingham Town Council has taken legal advice, which is that ESC ignored the ‘statutory primacy’ of Neighbourhood Plans and the planning officers did not show proper reason for overruling the plan. 

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“This makes a mockery of local democracy. Why have Neighbourhood Plans and Local Plans if planning officers ignore them? 

“We hope ESC will reconsider.” 

A number of planning approvals have been overturned in recent times, including a 210-home development in Beyton Road, Thurston, which was quashed by a High Court judge because the site was not included in the development limits set by the village Neighbourhood Plan. 

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: “East Suffolk Council has received a legal letter on behalf of Framlingham Town Council in respect of the consideration of a planning application by the planning committee south on January 25. 

“While it would not be appropriate for the council to comment on the town council’s position, pending our consideration of the letter, we will shortly be writing back to the town council. 

 “A planning committee report and update sheet were published online, providing detail of how the application was considered and determined.”