Campaigners plan meeting about 800-home 'garden neighbourhood' and fears over its 'irreversible impact'
PUBLISHED: 08:11 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:11 30 August 2018
A public meeting is being held to discuss proposals for 800 new homes which critics claim will “destroy” part of Suffolk forever.
Leave the Layers Alone (LTLA) a community group which formed in opposition to the Saxmundham housing plans, is holding the drop-in event to “make plain the risks to our landscape to the community”.
Plans for a “South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood” first appeared in Suffolk Coastal District Council’s draft Local Plan, which outlines possible development sites up to 2036.
The document claims it will provide new opportunities for housing, employment and community facilities.
LTLA, however, claims the site which is known as The Layers and stretches south towards Benhall, is a “unique landscape” which has “played a vital role for the town” for centuries and must be preserved.
Group member Belinda Moore said: “Make no mistake, these developments will destroy a part of the county forever. They will have an irreversible impact on local infrastructure and destroy much loved historic landscapes.
“Many businesses and livelihoods in this area rely on tourism. SCDC doesn’t appear even to have considered the grave impact of these plans on this vital income stream.”
Christopher Lucas, one of the group’s founders, said LTLA is not opposed to new housing “but it has to be proportionate, well supported in terms of infrastructure and affordable for local families”.
Saxmundham Town Council’s vice chairman Richard Plant said that while it would be wrong to make a judgment before consultation ended, he was keen to see any new development in the town contained “affordable social housing for local people.”
SCDC’s Local Plan says it seeks to “expand and diversify employment opportunities in the town and enhance the viability of the town centre”. A spokesman added the plan was still at its draft stage with consultation ongoing until September 14. “We look forward to receiving a range of constructive responses to help shape the future of the area,” the spokesman added.
The meeting will also consider concerns over substation plans for Friston and the potential for an A12 four villages bypass to create more land for housing.
It is at Saxmundham Market Hall, 10am-4pm on Saturday, September 8.
Developer to share plans for 225 homes
A Suffolk housing developer, which is interested in delivering some of the homes in he garden neighbourhood, said it would be sharing its plans “in the near future”.
Hopkins Homes’ initial plans are for up to 225 new homes, including affordable homes together with a site for a new primary school.
Simon Bryan, development director for Hopkins Homes, said Suffolk Coastal District Council’s draft Local Plan had identified Saxmundham as one of the market towns to accommodate new homes “to meet the significant shortages of houses in our region”.
He said the draft Local Plan identified the site as being suitable for development of around 800 new homes and Saxmundham’s Neighbourhood Plan would be required “to broadly accord with the policies in the Local Plan”.
Mr Bryan said Hopkins Homes looked forward to sharing its plans for new homes with the community “in the near future”.