Over 100 attend ‘disappointing’ meeting to view housing scheme in West Row


- Credit: Archant

More than 100 people attended the latest meeting about controversial plans to develop homes on land in West Row.

Developers Pigeon were seeking the villagers’ views on the future of land east of Beeches Road, after vociferous opposition to an original bid to build 131 homes.

The meeting was held at the Village Hall but some residents left disappointed that a concrete plan for less homes had not been put forward.

John Smith is a member of the action group formed to fight the development. He is also standing as an independent candidate in the Forest Heath District Council elections this May.

He said: “It was a disappointment. It was billed as this great big unveiling of the revised number, but it never really happened.

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“It was a slick meeting, but it was more about concepts for how it might look, there were no solid ideas. There were a lot of us there though, you can tell the village cares.”

The action group is opposed to the homes in the grounds that the infrastructure cannot take the amount of traffic and extra residents it would bring.

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Mr Smith said: “We are not against development, but it has to be the right amount and at the right speed. I understand the need for housing.

“At the meeting we did some polls, asking what people wanted and seeing how many put their hands up. At the end it seemed there was most support for around 20 homes on that site.

“Pigeon and (West Row district councillor) James Waters have been talking about around 70 to 80 homes, which we still think is too high. Ideally we want them to repeal their current application and submit a new one, but at the moment they are talking about modifying it.”

The decision on the current application is yet to be made, with no date set for it to be heard by the planning committee. The vast majority of the land is owned by Suffolk County Council, while a small slice is owned by James Waters’ brother.

Simon Butler-Finbow, project manager for Pigeon, refuted the claims that they did not present a revised figure.

He said: “We took a concept plan which showed between 70 to 80 homes. It was well attended by around 100 people.”

When asked about whether the event was helpful, he said: “Community engagement is always a beneficial part of the process.”

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