150-year-old oak tree saved in revised plan for 86 Elmswell homes

The site for 86 homes in Elmswell. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Land off School Road in Elmswell where 86 homes are to be developed - Credit: Archant

Plans for 86 new homes in Elmswell delayed in theĀ autumnĀ have finally been given outline planning approval.

The proposals, lodged by Christchurch Land and Estates, are for 86 homes on land between School Road and the railway line - a portion of land outside of the village but allocated for development in the upcoming joint local plan.

Plans were deferred by Mid Suffolk District Council's development control committee in November over concerns about highways safety at the School Road/Church Road junction, a known pinch point in the village particularly problematic for trucks.

The oak tree off School Road in Elmswell which Mid Suffolk District Council's planning committee sou

The 150-year-old oak tree in School Road, Elmswell, which has been saved under revised plans for 86 homes - Credit: Archant

A request was also made to ensure a 150-year-old oak tree close to the side of School Road could be retained.

Revised proposals returned to the committee on Wednesday featuring a tree protection order and plans to divert the planned cycle path around the oak tree.

Highways upgrades will include some road widening in School Road, as well as a revised layout at the junction with Church Road to include a widened road, a pedestrian crossing and realignment.

The outline plans were approved by six votes to one.

Land off School Road in Elmswell which developers are planning to build 86 homes on. Picture: GOOGLE

Land off School Road in Elmswell which developers are planning to build 86 homes on. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

James Bailey, agent on behalf of the developers, said: "It is hoped that the improvements to the Church Road and School Road junction have been made clear following concerns at the last committee.

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"The junction improvements - notably widening the entrance - should be seen as a positive for flows of traffic."

A roundabout and traffic lights were both considered for that junction, but were not considered suitable. Concerns remained over how safe it would be, particularly for pedestrians, but it has been agreed that a stage two safety audit - that which comes about when junction designs are published - must be passed before development can take place.

That is expected to be confirmed when the application for the final matters comes forward.

The Home, But Not Alone campaign has received more than 6,000 calls during coronavirus lockdown. Cou

Mid Suffolk development control committee chairman Matthew Hicks said the revised Elmswell 86 homes plan would deliver community benefits

Committee chairman Matthew Hicks said: "The development will fund a range of highways improvements, benefitting all local residents.

"Guaranteeing the safety of road users and pedestrians was considered at length by our committee, who successfully requested an additional obligation to provide further assurance on this before final details of the scheme can progress.

"Plans will also help to secure a new cycleway, promoting sustainable transport options and ensuring pedestrian safety in Elmswell.

"In addition to this, proposals offer affordable housing within walking distance of local amenities, as well as contributions for a new pre-school and primary school to keep pace with growth."

The scheme is to feature 35% designated as affordable homes, and will feature some bungalow provision.

Plans originally lodged two years ago were for 105 homes, but revised after work with planning officers during that time.

Elmswell councillors Helen Geake and Sarah Mansel

Elmswell councillors Helen Geake (left) and Sarah Mansel (right) - Credit: Wendy Turner

However, ward councillors Helen Geake and Sarah Mansel both remain opposed.

Ms Geake said: "This is one of the nicest parts of Elmswell - one of the best views we have over wonderful rolling countryside framed by the oak tree," and added that "Elmswell has delivered far more housing already than the community wants or needs".

Sarah Mansel said she still had doubts around pedestrian safety at the junction, and highlighted the frequent lorry use on those roads.

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