‘Tragedy waiting to happen” - Fears after homes on narrow lane given green light

The former Needham Market Middle School, which could become a community hub and act as the new home

The former Needham Market Middle School, which could become a community hub and act as the new home for the internet cafe - Credit: Archant

Angry neighbours have hit back at plans to build 41 new homes on a former middle school which they say are a “tragedy waiting to happen” - because of narrow streets.

The Needham Market Middle School site where the homes are planned, while concerns have been raised b

The Needham Market Middle School site where the homes are planned, while concerns have been raised by locals over the narrow access from The Causeway and School Street Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Google Maps

The application, which would see the old Needham Market Middle School demolished to make way for 41 homes, was given the green light by Mid Suffolk District Council officers this month.

However residents and the town council say the narrow access to the site, amongst other issues, should have been grounds for the plans to be rejected.

They say that despite the council creating a diversion route to avoid the worst of the problems, lorries will still become stuck along School Street and The Causeway - which they believe are too narrow for large vehicles.

A Traffic Management plan has been put in place by the district council in a bid to minimise the impact of construction traffic on the local surrounding area.

A construction lorry collided with a wall along School Street in Needham Market Picture: CHANTAL DAW

A construction lorry collided with a wall along School Street in Needham Market Picture: CHANTAL DAWSON - Credit: Archant

Chantal Dawson, who lives in The Causeway, has even installed a security camera on the outside of her house to monitor any problems.

She said: "I'm not against the homes being built there but I am against the council's inability to see that the site is not a good location for so many homes.

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"The access to the site is inappropriate for the types of vehicles that are going to be using it while the homes are built.

"When the community centre was being developed next to the middle school, a delivery lorry became stuck and smashed into a poor lady's garden wall. It's just an example of what is to come."

A construction lorry collided with a wall along School Street in Needham Market Picture: CHANTAL DAW

A construction lorry collided with a wall along School Street in Needham Market Picture: CHANTAL DAWSON - Credit: Archant

The views of those living near the site are not only replicated by the wider Needham Market community but by the town council as well.

Xy Stansfield, Needham Market parish councillor, said: "The diversion route for construction vehicles to avoid a narrow turning means that more people will be inconvenienced.

"The plans have been ill-conceived from start to finish and I don't think you will find a resident in Needham Market who thinks the homes are a good idea."

Cllr Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet member for housing delivery, said: "This development not only brings a disused site back into use, it will also provide much-needed affordable housing in the town, creating 41 new homes for those on lower incomes.

"We understand residents' concerns, and balancing the need for these homes and new library for the town, as well as protecting and enhancing the environment and safeguarding residential amenity and historic buildings, were carefully considered by the planning committee when permission was granted back in February.

"As with all planning applications, prior to committee feedback was received from statutory consultees, including Suffolk Highways, who did not object to the application.

"We have, however, put a Construction and Traffic Management plan in place to minimise the impact of construction traffic for the local community as far as possible.

"This stipulates that deliveries to the construction site are made at off peak times of day; that a person is available to direct larger vehicles around the junction to get on and off site - ensuring pedestrian safety at all times - and that construction traffic uses the safest route, avoiding any delivery vehicles trying to turn directly from B1113 onto the Causeway.

"We are committed to delivering this development with as little disruption as possible for the local community, so this disused site can enjoy a new lease of life, and we will continue to keep residents and Needham Market Town Council informed of progress."

A Suffolk Highways spokesman said: "This issue has been raised by a number of residents via a district councillor and through their responses to the planning authority for the redevelopment of the Middle School site. We are aware that the roads in this area are narrow and turning of large vehicles can be difficult and this has been included in our response as a statutory consultee.

"We will be working with MSDC and the developer to agree what improvements can be made at this location."

Other residents took to social media to hit back at Mid Suffolk District Council.

Pat Potter said: "The road is still a death trap for pedestrians, people with prams, wheelchair users for example.

"It is unthinkable that MSDC are being so careless and irresponsible as to go ahead with this scheme without building a new road or offering alternative access to the area."

Lexi Taylor, who also lives in Needham Market said: "This is irresponsible madness. The site could have been used for something much more beneficial to the local community."

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