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‘Worst case of speculative development’: 160 homes plan shelved

PUBLISHED: 14:41 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:41 26 September 2018

Poplar Hill Stowmarket, where the 160 home development was proposed Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Poplar Hill Stowmarket, where the 160 home development was proposed Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

A vision to develop 160 homes in Stowmarket has been branded “the worst case of speculative application to exploit for profit” by planners.

The view across Poplar Hill with the Grade I Listed Church of St Mary, which planners said would be ruined by any development of 160 homes Picture: IAN CLARKThe view across Poplar Hill with the Grade I Listed Church of St Mary, which planners said would be ruined by any development of 160 homes Picture: IAN CLARK

Gladman Developments Ltd submitted outline proposals to build 160 homes on agricultural land to the east of Poplar Hill.

The plans sparked a swathe of public opposition, culminating in a petition of more than 1,500 signatures being submitted ahead of Mid Suffolk District Council’s development control committee on Wednesday.

A host of concerns were raised over the proposals, including the impact it would have on the landscape and the Grade I Listed Church of St Mary, the effect on the roads which were already being turned into rat runs, archaeology concerns and the development reducing the distance between the towns of Stowmarket and Combs.

The plans were unanimously refused by the committee.

Councillor David Whybrow for the Ringshall ward said the church was “a valuable heritage asset and is indeed a rural church – this would irrevocably compromise that”.

He added: “This is one of the worst cases of speculative application to exploit for profit I have seen.

“It’s highly speculative, short term gain and the benefits, while we have heard some, would quite clearly be outweighed by the losses if this development ever went ahead.”

Ward councillor for Stowmarket South Nick Gowrley said he had “never received so much adverse comment as this proposal”.

The application was submitted when Mid Suffolk was unable to demonstrate a five-year housing supply, but as it is now able to does not have to give additional weight to housing proposals which go against the council’s planning policies.

The land has not been designated for housing use in the Stowmarket plan.

The Save Mill Mount Field group had campaigned during the summer against the plans, collecting the 1,500 signatures for the petition submitted in opposition.

Desiree Shelley, from the group, said: “We are thrilled that sense has prevailed.

“That church means so much to so many people and to have 160 houses blocking that church from our village would be terrible.”

A spokesman from Gladman has been approached for comment.

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