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‘We have been failed by Mid Suffolk’ - council under fire after Woolpit homes granted at appeal

PUBLISHED: 07:30 21 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:51 21 October 2018

The scene in Woolpit after a lorry got stuck after hitting a building on a narrow street Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The scene in Woolpit after a lorry got stuck after hitting a building on a narrow street Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Archant

Villagers in Woolpit are “furious” plans for a housing development they feel would harm the medieval centre have been allowed at appeal - and many lay the blame with the district council.

The centre of Woolpit, which is a conservation area Picture: GOOGLE MAPSThe centre of Woolpit, which is a conservation area Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Planning Inspector Harold Stephens felt the proposal by Landex Ltd for 49 homes off Green Road should be allowed, with significant weight given to his view that Mid Suffolk District Council cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing.

While the inspector agreed with concerns over safety at the pinch point on Green Road, he felt highways works could mitigate the risk to pedestrians and vehicles.

He also felt the “very modest increase in traffic” caused by the development would not cause any harm to the significance of the listed buildings.

John Guyler, chairman of Woolpit Parish Council, which is strongly opposed to the development, said: “I think the people of Woolpit in general do feel Mid Suffolk have failed because they haven’t had a local plan.

Concerns over safety at the Concerns over safety at the "pinch point" in the centre of Woolpit formed part of the objections to the plans for 49 homes off Green Road Picture: PHIL MORLEY

“The last local plan was created in 1998. If they had an up-to-date local plan, which they should have, then there wouldn’t have been a need for a five-year land supply and that really is the basic issue.”

Work is under way on a new joint local plan with Babergh District Council, which will be a legal planning document guiding how the districts will develop over the next 20 years.

In the meantime, communities face speculative applications from developers, with Mr Guyler adding plans are currently on the table for up to 300 homes off Bury Road in Woolpit.

Nick Gowrley, leader of the Conservative-run Mid Suffolk District Council, said Mid Suffolk had been “convinced” they had a five-year land supply.

The wedged lorry from another angle Picture: PHIL MORLEYThe wedged lorry from another angle Picture: PHIL MORLEY

“We still think we have a five-year land supply so we are checking that evidence,” he said. “The biggest problem for us is the people we need to get the evidence from are the people making other speculative applications.”

He said they were using “whatever resources are necessary” to bring a new local plan into place as soon as possible, adding many local authorities in England do not have a current local plan.

Woolpit resident Terry Grant, who lives right on the pinch point, said villagers were “furious” over what had happened, adding they felt they had been “stitched up” by Mid Suffolk District Council.

Rachel Eburne, Green Party leader of the opposition on the council, said: “Back in 2014, and many times since, the Green Group argued more should be done to ensure a five-year housing land supply and once again Conservative leadership has failed our local communities.”

Landex Ltd was unavailable for comment.

For the full appeal decision see here.

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