Narrow access roads prompt fresh objection to village homes proposals

Hawes Lane junction with Heath Road in Norton

The junction of Hawes Lane with Heath Road in Norton which construction traffic would have to navigate to access the development site if plans are approved - Credit: Andy Sedgwick

Fresh plans for homes in a Mid Suffolk village have been recommended for approval next week, despite ongoing fears from the community about highways.

Proposals for nine homes off Hawes Lane in Norton have been lodged by Ash Property Consortium Ltd. A previous application for 20 homes on the same site in October 2019 was refused, prompting an appeal that was ultimately unsuccessful.

The chief reason for the refusal was: "The proposed development accessing Hawes Lane would, if approved, likely result in a significant conflict between cars and pedestrians by construction traffic and during the lifetime of the development and given the design and character of the lane would be detrimental to highway safety and amenity for existing residents."

However, the revised plans have received the backing of Suffolk County Council Highways, which said: "This development can achieve safe and suitable access to the site for all users and would not have a severe impact on the road network."

It said that the reduced number of homes will reduce the number of vehicle movements so as not to cause a capacity issue on the road, bridleways could provide safe pedestrian movements and passing places have been added.

It has prompted vehement opposition from the community. The parish council said that it is a "small single carriageway road with no public footway" and "development would present a serious risk to pedestrians".

Andy Sedgwick, on behalf of villagers against the plans, said the passing places will still not be wide enough to adequately address construction traffic, adding: "There is a clear argument that it is more important to maintain the identity of the village, rather than damaging it with an unnecessary development, which was another conclusion reached by the appeal inspector."

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The latest plans have attracted five supporting comments and 46 objections. Those objections include road fears but also the belief the proposal is "a tactical back door attempt to soften the initial impact of 20 houses, which is the ultimate aim," and could prompt another application in future.

Phil Cobbold, agent on behalf of the developers said: "We have worked very closely with the highway authority to secure a scheme which they are satisfied with and which overcomes the concerns expressed by the inspector when the previous scheme for 20 dwellings was refused.

"It is disappointing that some members of the local community are still objecting. The highway improvements, including the road widening, the passing bays and the footpath will significantly improve pedestrian safety along Hawes Lane.

"There will always be some members of the community who do not wish to see any new development in their village. However, if local communities want to retain their primary schools, shops and pubs they must acknowledge that development is needed to sustain these facilities."

A decision is set to be made on Wednesday, April 14.