‘This will be the worst thing that has ever happened to Woolpit’ - claim over 300-home development
PUBLISHED: 16:30 21 February 2020
MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL/GOOGLE MAPS
Plans for 300 homes off the A14 in Woolpit have reluctantly been approved amid warnings that it will be a “catastrophe” and “the worst thing that has ever happened” to the village.
Hopkins Homes lodged the controversial plans to develop land off The Street, which included a new roundabout connecting with the A14, and land for a potential new school.
But despite dozens of public objections, and staunch cases being made by the parish council and ward councillors, Mid Suffolk District Council's planning committee was forced to accept there was not sufficient planning grounds to refuse the proposal.
Now warnings have been made that it will change the landscape forever.
Among the issues were the number of affordable homes - only 20% compared to the 33% in the council's policy, the impact on the size of the village and damage to views of the nearby church.
Ward councillor Sarah Mansel said it would "Irreversibly change the character of Woolpit for the worse" while councillor Helen Geake, also ward councillor, said it was "out of all proportion with the existing village," a "catastrophe" and the "worst thing that has ever happened for our village".
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John Guyler, Woolpit Parish Council chairman, added: "A 300 home site will overwhelm Woolpit, which will be turned from an iconic Suffolk village into a town. It's unique character will be destroyed.
"With some 900 houses in the village already, this site together with others that have already been approved will increase Woolpit's size by 50%."
The site is listed in Mid Suffolk's emerging local plan, although the parish council rejected it as land for homes in the neighbourhood plan, which is also in development.
Despite the issues outlined, it was recognised there were some benefits, which included the ability to meet the need for housing in Mid Suffolk, improvements to the village's infrastructure with a new spine road and roundabout with the A14 and school provision.
James Alflatt, from Bidwells, agents on behalf of Hopkins Homes, said it was a "high quality and sustainable extension to Woolpit helping fulfil its housing and wider infrastructure requirements".
Outline planning permission was approved by seven votes to five, with developers now required to come up with detailed designs that must be returned to the committee for final approval.
The plans were due to be heard on February 5, but had to be delayed when the meeting overran.