248 new homes for Thurston to progress despite backlash over 'poor design'
PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 April 2019
The first application for hundreds of new homes in Thurston will go ahead, despite designs being dubbed "poor by any imagination".
The controversial application by Persimmon Homes to develop land off Ixworth Road was given outline permission last year, but a decision over designs and layout was pushed back in March.
Among the concerns at the time were the lack of bungalows and the number of homes that were two-and-a-half or three storeys high that were not in keeping with the village's character.
The plans returned to Wednesday's Mid Suffolk District Council development control committee, where fresh criticism was levelled at Persimmon's designs.
Ward councillor Derrick Haley said: “Virtually everybody agrees the design of this development is poor.
“We can look at all the changes but it still ends up being in the same place of being an urban development in a rural village.”
Mr Haley said it was a “poor design by any imagination” and “it is the villages that will have to live with this”.
Among the changes Persimmon made were a reduction in the overall number of homes from 250 to 248, adding another four bungalows to bring the total up to eight, and moving the taller homes away from the north of the site.
Persimmon senior planner Stuart McAdam said homes with more than two storeys was a lifestyle choice many of its customers preferred. He also said the scheme would deliver “much needed high quality homes in Thurston”.
But fears were raised that refusing the designs for a second time would risk jeopardising the district's five-year land supply, that could in turn allow speculative developers to submit applications which were not suitable but had more chance of being approved.
Councillor Barry Humphreys told Persimmon it had a “moral obligation” to offer acceptable designs and also raised issues with he affordable homes being too small.
Despite the concerns, which were also raised by Thurston Parish Council, Suffolk Preservation Society and the neighbourhood plan working group, the committee approved the plans - subject to the chief planning officer negotiating the reduced number of tall properties with Persimmon, as well as the size and location of affordable homes.
Mr Haley, who is not standing for re-election, said he almost walked out of the committee because of the decision.
It represents the first in a wave of applications to be decided for Thurston, as a handful of proposals by various developers could see the village double in size and more than 800 homes built.