Planners set to reject application for 110 homes on Suffolk farm
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Plans to build 110 new homes on a north Suffolk chicken farm have been recommended for refusal – on the grounds the development is “inherently unsustainable”.
The application, submitted by Crown Chicken Ltd, seeks permission to build more than 100 new dwellings on Crown Farm in Weybread, incorporating both brownfield and greenfield sites – a proposal criticised by planners for its “unsustainable” demands on local services.
The plans, which would increase the number of properties in the parish by 60%, have been recommended for refusal by officers at Mid Suffolk District Council on the grounds there is not “appropriate infrastructure” to cater for added pressures from an influx of residents – risking extra strain on local primary schools, roads and other services.
While they recognised the council does not have a deliverable five year supply of housing land, and the proposals may bring some environmental and economic benefits, the planning officers argued the adverse impacts of the large-scale development would “significantly and demonstrably” outweigh any positives.
In a report prepared for the planning committee meeting on February 27, the officers wrote: “The development of 110 dwellings in this location would be out of character with the existing pattern of development, contrary to development plan policies [...] and would give rise to a significant increase in the overall size of the village without appropriate infrastructure being in place to accommodate the future occupants of the development.”
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They added that “the absence of existing facilities and services within reasonable distance/travelling time of the development” would force residents and visitors to rely on their own cars, compromising any plans to boost sustainable transport.
The officers said there are “no primary school places available within the local catchment area” – a major problem for families who may want to make use of the new development, as well as existing residents.
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They also took issue with the lack of provision for affordable housing, meaning the project would “fail to meet the social dimension of sustainable development”.
The council has already granted permission for the current chicken factory to be relocated to Eye Airfield, with all employees transferred to the new location – prompting concerns about a loss of work opportunities in the village.
However the developers have argued that the site will bring some economic benefit, as they also seek to covert the vacant Crown Inn into a flexible community space incorporating a cafe, pub and day nursery.
A total of 44 comments have been made by members of the public – with 32 objecting, and just seven in support of the development.
Joe Pietrzack, of Mill Lane in Weybread, said while he was “obviously rather not have a chicken factory in the village” he objected to the use of a greenfield site – which he feared could set a precedent for future developments in the area.
He added: “Weybread is a small village which would almost double in size over night. Where are all these new villagers meant to work, shop, socialise, school, doctor etc? These local services in neighbouring villages/towns are already oversubscribed.”
Janet Blair, of the Street, also in the village, said the proposal number of houses is “far too high” – arguing that “an equilibrium has to be maintained between sustainable development and reasonable conservation”.
“This area currently houses circa 60 properties but if the proposed development were approved this would equate to an increase of approximately 175%,” she said.
“Therefore, this begs the question, would the proposed extra 110 houses manage to integrate into the present provision of infrastructure and amenities? I believe not.”
Meanwhile, Alec James, also of The Street, said he was in favour of the development overall, but would prefer only the brownfield site was used.
“This would reduce the number of houses to a more suitable and sustainable amount for a small village,” he said.
“If the entrance road to the development was kept as the existing factory entrance, this is tried, tested and works safely.”
Weybread Parish Council strongly objected to the development – arguing the proposals are not financially viable, the greenfield site should not be compromised, the demand on local schools and doctors surgeries would be unsustainable, and the current sewerage system “may be too old and fragile” to cater for such an influx of residents.
In their application, developers Crown Chicken Ltd argued that the proposals would result in “a number of significant positive benefits”, including a boost to the housing land supply, and the removal of an “incompatible existing use [...] with regards to odour and noise”, as well as HGV movements, in the redevelopment of a brownfield site.
They added: “In terms of adverse impacts it is accepted that the application results in development of land which is currently classified as greenfield and countryside and results in development within a village where there is limited access to services and facilities.
“However the circumstances surrounding this proposal are rare and it is considered that the scheme can largely mitigate against the impacts of the development on the landscape through retention and enhancement of existing boundary planting.
“On balance therefore we do not consider that the harm from the development significantly and demonstrably outweighs the benefits.”
The Mid Suffolk District Council Development Control Committee B will consider the proposals at Endeavour House, Ipswich, on Wednesday, February 27, at 9.30am.