East Suffolk ready to find new developer for Melton Hill offices following legal challenge
PUBLISHED: 05:30 12 November 2020
East Suffolk Council is set to look for a new developer for its former offices once again after a legal bid against it was dismissed.
The council’s former offices on Melton Hill in Woodbridge have been empty for a number of years following attempts to have the site developed into a housing estate.
Last October, the final approved application, the third entered for the site in recent years, was approved by the council.
It featured 100 homes of which 32 were allocated to be affordable properties.
Since then the site’s original developer, Active Urban Woodbridge Limited, had its contract ended with the council following legal developments.
However, the council now believes it is in the position to start marketing the site to new interested developers after fresh legal action was brought by a Woodbridge resident.
Barry Zins raised concerns about the council’s actions regarding the site.
In Mr Zins’ view the council failed to follow protocol regarding the amount of affordable housing for the land.
He said that in his view the balance of negatives and positives that would result from the site were also not considered properly. Mr Zins said he was disappointed by the decision, but maintained that the current plans would still attract criticism from the town under a new developer.
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“Nobody in Woodbridge is going to support that,” said Mr Zins.
“We would like to see something more appropriate for Woodbridge.”
A judge in the Administrative Court dismissed all of the claims made against the council, and found that its approach to the granting of planning consent was lawful.
David Ritchie, cabinet member for planning and coastal management at East Suffolk Council, said: “I welcome the judgment in the Melton Hill case, which fully vindicates the approach taken by the council, as local planning authority, in the determination of the application for 100 homes on the former council office site.
“The main issue in this case was around the approach which the council had taken to ensure that the right level of affordable housing would be provided on site.
“I am very pleased that the judge found the decision to issue planning permission for the development to be lawful.
“I’d like to thank our planning officers for their consistent, thorough and professional advice throughout this long running case and the planning committee, for resolutely ensuring a full and considered debate was undertaken, and for approving the scheme, subsequently.”
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