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Loneliness-busting village housing project one step closer to reality

PUBLISHED: 05:30 30 July 2019

L-R: Ian Johnson, Michael Gower, Sarah Quinlan, Bob Jackson and Juliet Bullimore outside the vicarage in Westleton earlier this year  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

L-R: Ian Johnson, Michael Gower, Sarah Quinlan, Bob Jackson and Juliet Bullimore outside the vicarage in Westleton earlier this year Picture: RACHEL EDGE

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Proposals to turn a former Suffolk vicarage into an innovative housing project tackling loneliness have taken one step closer to fruition after plans for the site were submitted.

A full planning application has been made for new properties at Westleton's vicarage  Picture: RACHEL EDGEA full planning application has been made for new properties at Westleton's vicarage Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The Glebe Meadow Westleton Community Interest Company (GMW) has applied to build a new co-housing site centred around the village's vicarage.

The project has been described by the company as "a social and sustainable approach to creating a new senior co-housing community" and would see 20 dwellings created at the site for local people aged over 65.

A public consultation on the plans was held in the village earlier this year following an application for outline planning permission by GMW.

As well as housing, the application also includes two social hub areas - one would see the transformation of the physical vicarage into a shared facility including a cinema, kitchen, office, activities room as well as space for fitness, mobile hairdressers and healthcare visitors.

There would also be bedrooms for residents' guests to use within the building.

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Outside, there would be further shared space which would contain vegetable and raised beds for flower growing areas, boules courts, seating areas for relaxing alongside a chicken coop and run.

Developers hope the scheme could also provide benefits to younger people living in the area in the long run.

"By providing 20 new age appropriate, two-bedroom properties for locals over 65 years old, larger homes in the area will be released for families and younger workers to move into the area," said a statement in the project's design and access statement.

"This will enhance the vitality of the area and should contribute positively to the economy of the district."

"We see this as a ground-breaking model for rural development that addresses specific local needs and as such one that could be rolled out in other villages for redundant sites that are well situated in their communities," said GMW.

"The aim is to promote neighbourliness, combat isolation and offer mutual support for individuals to be able to live independently for as long as possible."

East Suffolk Council will have the final say on the plans.

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