Homes plan rejected as opponents protest against project

Demonstarators gathered outside East Suffolk House to protest about plans to build 55 homes

Demonstrators gathered outside East Suffolk House to protest about plans to build 55 homes on land at the end of St Andrews estate in Melton - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Placard-waving protesters staged a demonstration as community leaders made the rare decision to overturn planning permission for a housing project.

East Suffolk councillors had approved the 55 homes in Melton last year but today overturned that decision amid fresh concern over highways safety, refusing the plans by seven votes to two.

East Suffolk councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte, who represents the Suffolk Coastal Green Party, said: "It is absolutely fantastic that they have overturned the decision. It is what we have been fighting for all these years since the original decision. I am absolutely thrilled for the residents.

"I wasn't hopeful to begin, but we are really pleased at the decision. However, we are aware that there will be an appeal and we will have to fight this all over again, but tonight we celebrate."

The authority's planning south committee had been asked to decide afresh on the project for an 8.4-acre site off St Andrews Place after residents indicated that they would seek a judicial review in the High Court.

In March 2021 the committee had agreed to grant outline planning permission by five votes to three for an application by Warburg Dawson Partnership, despite objections from Suffolk County Council Highways, Melton Parish Council, and 91 members of the public.

Demonstarators gathered outside East Suffolk House to protest about plans to build 55 homes

Demonstrators gathered outside East Suffolk House to protest about plans to build 55 homes on land at the end of St Andrews estate in Melton.Cllr Rachel Smith-Lyte. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Neighbours then wrote to the council arguing that the committee had been misled over the extent of costs if an appeal was made and over the highways consultation, which legal representatives suggested would “be amenable to a successful judicial review challenge”.

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The council disputed the claim, but agreed to refer the matter back to the councillors for reconsideration.

Planning officers said they felt that the highways impact was “not so severe to warrant refusal on highways grounds”.

But committee chair Debbie McCallum said: “The officers are here to help make a decision on this planning application, it’s their belief that the objections of Highways are not strong enough.

Demonstarators gathered outside East Suffolk House to protest about plans to build 55 homes

Demonstrators gathered outside East Suffolk House to protest about plans to build 55 homes on land at the end of St Andrews estate in Melton - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“This committee has decided today that they believe that highways reasons are strong enough, and that is in our gift to make that decision to refuse this application.”

Suffolk County Council Highways maintained its original objection to the scheme. It said St Andrews Place was not considered suitable for construction traffic and “would be detrimental to the safety of users of the highway for a significant period of time”.

It also stressed that it would add further traffic to the already over capacity Melton crossroads, and no direct access link was proposed for the nearby rail station.

Developers had agreed to create some more parking bays and crossing places in St Andrews Place which the highways authority acknowledged had “progressed as far as is feasible”.