Plans for 279 new homes rejected as flooding fears voiced

Land off Barking Road in Needham Market, where plans for 279 homes has been refused.

Land off Barking Road in Needham Market, where plans for 279 homes has been refused. - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

Fresh plans to build 279 homes in a flood risk site in Needham Market have been roundly rejected, as fears homeowners could become “trapped” were reiterated.

A consortium of landowners lodged a bid to develop grade two agricultural land off Barking Road outside the settlement boundary, which was rejected last year.

A resubmission with a few changes had been lodged, but once again refused at Wednesday's Mid Suffolk District Council development control meeting.

The chief concern remained that only one access road was planned off Barking Road, which sits in a flood zone.

Planning officers said it was “wholly realistic” that any flood there could cause people to become “trapped”.

Elsewhere, a lack of information on key elements such as flood risk mitigation, ecology features and mineral potential was cited, while the land’s location between the settlement of the town and the nearby special landscape area meant it “represents an encroachment into the countryside”.

An emergency access in the north east corner of the site close to the football club has been proposed, which would require the redevelopment of the bridleway.

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But planning officers said that would not be an appropriate second access point as it would send traffic for 279 homes through nearby residential streets.

A development of 150 homes or more is expected to offer at least two access points.

Jason Parker from Parker Planning Services, agent on behalf of the developers, said: “We have provided a lot of additional information where we are awaiting consultation responses.

“In the event of flooding it’s only the main access off Barking Road that’s actually in the flood zone, so the dwellings are completely safe. If it did flood the residents would be safe.”

The site, which would deliver 100 affordable homes, is not allocated in either the emerging joint local plan or the approved Needham Market neighbourhood plan.

Ward councillor Mike Norris said there was “no proven need for this development”, while Suffolk County Council objected because of insufficient land allocation for a nursery or pre-school and the Barking Road entrance being “high risk” of flooding.

More than 120 public objections were lodged, as well as objections from the town and parish councils and Environment Agency.