Lavenham: Local housing needs ‘ignored’ in site plan

PLANS to build around 45 new homes at a key entry point to one of Suffolk’s tourist hotspots have been criticised for not taking local housing needs into consideration.

Babergh District Council is due to discuss the application to build a housing estate on the old Amorex factory site in Lavenham before the end of the month.

The former factory buildings on the 1.48ha plot, which lies between Frogs Hall Road, Bury Road and Preston Road, were bulldozed last year. As a commercial buyer for the land could not be found, the current planning application includes a change of use to housing.

But parish council chairman Roy Whitworth has slammed the current application, which he says has put villagers in a “lose-lose” situation.

He said: “If the application is refused then we will have to put up with what looks like a bomb site of derelict concrete at the entrance to our beautiful village.

“If it is allowed then we will be forced to accept a development, which does nothing for local needs, contravenes many of Babergh’s own planning guidelines and puts further strain on our already overstretched infrastructure.”

Mr Whitworth said property in Lavenham attracted a premium over the surrounding area, which was good news for developers, but meant locals were priced out of the housing market.

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More than 300 Lavenham residents attended a recent public consultation event over the Amorex site plans and the parish council submitted suggested changes to the document based on feedback from the meeting.

Mr Whitworth added: “We understand developers have to make a profit but this is an exceptional site in a very desirable location and there should be no commercial reason why some provision should not be made for local needs.

“We had hoped that, after our initial comments, a revised application would incorporate some substantial changes, but there are still almost as many units crammed on to the site and there is still no recognition of local needs.”

Lavenham is one of the first communities in the UK to embark on the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan under the 2012 Localism Bill. After a meeting on October 7, councillor Carroll Reeve, who is leading the process, said: “There is no doubt Lavenham people would like more say over what happens in the village and the issue that topped the list of concerns was local needs housing. We are determined to do something about it and will resist any planning applications that do not fully recognise this.”

Babergh’s Development Committee is expected to discuss the application at a meeting on October 31.