Lakenheath: Parish council calls for strategic thinking over housing plans

Lakenheath Fen

Lakenheath Fen - Credit: Archant

Villagers have called for strategic thinking after proposals for more than 1,000 homes were put on the table by different developers.

Lakenheath Parish Council called for an infrastructure report into the village’s needs at a packed public meeting.

The village has been subject to four proposals for significant housing developments in recent months – two from Elveden Farms, including one for 750 homes, a primary school and health centre, as well as others from Bennett and Forest Heath District Council leader James Waters.

In total, 1,057 potential properties are up for consideration.

Parish council chairman David Gathercole said the homes would have a “profound impact” on the village for the next 100 to 150 years.

Development around Forest Heath has been plagued with problems in recent times as the council had to throw out its Local Plan - which had assigned areas for development - in 2011, after it was successfully challenged in the High Court.

Lakenheath has been earmarked for 800 new homes until 2031, and Forest Heath is consulting on specific areas where these should be sited.

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Vice-chairman Ian Smith accused local developers of seizing on this lack of long-term strategy, adding: “I think it’s fair that we should demand Forest Heath carry out a joined-up overview study, paid for by the developers, to give a comprehensive review of Lakenheath.”

Monday’s meeting at the Methodist Chapel was packed with villagers looking to voice their opinion, with many having to stand in corridors outside the main hall as they tried to listen to the debate.

Lakenheath Primary School headteacher Emma Vincent raised concerns about the school’s ability to cope with more pupils.

She said: “The site isn’t big enough to be extending to take more children. If there is going to be development we need to look at the school as a priority.”

Two people spoke on behalf of the applications from Elveden Farms. Estates manager Jim Rudderham said: “I believe this growth will happen and there is a commitment by Elveden to provide all the essential facilities to cope with this site.”

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