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Controversial housing plans for former middle school given go ahead

PUBLISHED: 09:29 14 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:29 14 December 2019

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

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

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Plans to build 41 new homes on the former Needham Market Middle School site have been given the go ahead despite concerns raised by neighbours over the suitability of the site.

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

The school closed in July 2015, before Mid Suffolk District Council bought the site from the county council at the end of 2017 and a consultation on initial proposals for homes and a library got underway in the summer.

The district council announced in December 2018 it had submitted a formal planning application for the site, as well as its plans to redevelop its former council offices to objection from the local community who raised a number of issues over the homes.

Meetings took place in Suffolk shortly after the plans were released with more than 60 people gathering to discuss the applications. A year later, planning committee members have given it the green light.

They said that the disused site, plus a Victorian building which will become a library, needed to be redeveloped to bring it back to life. They also said issues of conservation, design, highway safety and residential amenity have been satisfied by the applicant.

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

However, on the online application 75 locals had put forward their views on the new housing estate. Only one of them supported the development.

One local said the plan "defies belief" due to the access short comings of the site.

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"Pedestrians will be put at risk and the pedestrian access planned does not meet minimum requirements," one said.

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

Residents of School Street and The Causeway, which lead to the site, had already written to the council to express their concern about large vehicles which will need to use the narrow streets to deliver to the site.

They claim to have already seen what can happen when lorries get into trouble on their road after part of a house was destroyed by a HGV which became stuck while trying to get to a site next door to the proposed development.

Chantal Dawson, who lives nearby in The Causeway and witnessed the crash, said: "There have been problems for ages with School Street.

"I honestly have no idea how many times my house has been hit. The scars on the brickwork will show that."

Now that the proposals have been given the green light, work is due to begin within 18 months.


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