Ipswich: Residents fear council homes could upset balance of community at Ravenswood

Ravenswood housing estate, Ipswich Aerial
Picture Mike Page
EADT 18/8/07

Ravenswood housing estate, Ipswich Aerial Picture Mike Page EADT 18/8/07

People living in Ravenswood, on the edge of Ipswich, fear plans for nearly 100 new council homes will upset the balance of the community.

The original plan, from Ipswich Borough Council, for the site was for 77 houses, of which 26 were planned to be council houses.

In August, the borough changed the plans to 94 houses, all of which would be council houses.

It was proposed there would be two four-bedroomed family homes, 46 two-bedroomed homes and 46 one-bedroomed flats, sparking fears that the balance of the estate would be changed as the development was designed to be split 65/35 between private housing and “social housing.”

However, following an executive borough council meeting, 72 will now be council houses, with the remainder being “shared ownership” housing.

Richard Venning, a member of the Ravenswood Residents Action Group, said: “Our legal advice confirms that in pursuing these plans the council has gone against its own policies by insisting that such a large proportion of the properties will be council houses.

“The development of Ravenswood has been a good example of how to successfully create integrated communities where social houses and private houses are built alongside each other. This is national policy and is the council’s published policy.

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“Why the council is going against its own policy has not been adequately explained to residents.

“The funding deadline is not until 2016 leaving us to conclude that with the General Election next year this is to do with short-term political gain rather than the long-term interests of Ipswich residents.

“We are disappointed that the council ignored our concerns and continue to pay lip service to consultation.”

He said the group agreed with the council that more council houses need to be built but it had a number of sites available so it does not need to build so many at Ravenswood and “undermine what is a successful integrated community”.

He added: “We continue to talk to the council and we’re hoping that they will think again and propose a more balanced development – one that complies with their own policy.

“But our legal advice is compelling and we will have strong grounds for a judicial review if the planning committee approves this application.”

Borough council housing spokesman John Mowles said the plan for the development came about because of the chance to get government funding to build 100 council homes.

He said: “The council put in a bid to receive £1.5million of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency as long as the homes are affordable homes.

“Twelve of the one-bedroomed flats and 12 of the two bedroomed homes are to be shared ownership homes, which still fit into the government specification.”

The shared ownership housing, if the proposals go through, will become a pilot scheme for the borough council, the four-bedroomed homes would remain in the proposals but as council owned homes with facilities for disabled people.

Mr Mowles added: “We have 92 homes that come within the government guidelines.”

He also said the council was looking for a site, or sites, for eight properties, to take the total number of council homes to 100 as per government funding guidelines.

“We will be providing 100 affordable homes, 24 of which will be shared ownership.”

He also added the planning policy was correct, as it is used for private developments to try and get 35 per cent of the homes as affordable and said: “I hope the residents group will see it has gone some way in addressing their comments.

“The executive believes now what we have come up with is the best solution and the best way of using this money.

“It’s not an insignificant sum of money. It’s still got to go through planning, and people will be able to comment if they wish.”

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