‘Extreme concern’ voiced over Melton Hill ‘cheese wedge’ housing plans
- Credit: Hoopers Architects/AUPG
Planners are facing growing demands to refuse controversial housing proposals for a Suffolk council’s former headquarters.
Active Urban Woodbridge Ltd’s (AUWL) revised application to build 100 homes at Suffolk Coastal’s old Melton Hill offices – but with less affordable housing than previously outlined – has provoked major opposition since its submission last month.
Following concerns raised by Woodbridge Town Council, Melton Parish Council and more than 140 residents, county councillor Caroline Page has become the latest to call for the application’s refusal.
Ms Page, who represents Woodbridge at Suffolk County Council, said she had “extreme concern” about the development.
She criticised the developers’ revisions, first to increase the total number of homes from 70-100, and then to reduce affordable units from 32-15.
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“I want to put on record my concerns at the propriety of the district council seeking to monetise the Melton Hill site instead of looking at the legacy benefits of providing for local need,” Ms Page added.
“Woodbridge relies on retained firefighters, care workers, shop assistants, young families, the teachers who can’t afford to live near our eight schools, the working twenty-somethings who can’t afford to leave home, nurses, police, paramedics. Yet in the last decades the town has lost more and more of the key rental sector stock that it needs to support key workers. In order to survive as a working town, Woodbridge needs significant amount of housing at social rental.”
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The proposals have proved controversial ever since AUWL won the council contract to redevelop the site in 2016, with some likening its design to “cheese wedges”. Subsequent delays and the application for fewer affordable homes have led to calls for the process to begin afresh with a new tender process.
Woodbridge resident Barry Zins, in his letter to the planning department, warned that a decision to approve the application would trigger a judicial review.
AUWL said the revised application had been lodged in light of its request to apply for Vacant Building Credit – a scheme introduced to give developers incentive to develop brown field sites. “Active Urban has taken this step due to the lack of interest in any affordable housing stock from Registered Social Landlords, as well as the challenging viability of the scheme,” the company added.
SCDC said the application had been open to public consultation and would be considered by committee.