Public inquiry begins on homes plan

A PUBLIC inquiry has been launched into controversial plans to build more than 300 new homes on the site of a former Suffolk naval base.Government inspector Christopher Frost has opened proceedings into whether or not to grant planning permission for 325 properties and accompanying retail and leisure facilities to be developed at HMS Ganges in Shotley, near Ipswich.

A PUBLIC inquiry has been launched into controversial plans to build more than 300 new homes on the site of a former Suffolk naval base.

Government inspector Christopher Frost has opened proceedings into whether or not to grant planning permission for 325 properties and accompanying retail and leisure facilities to be developed at HMS Ganges in Shotley, near Ipswich.

Babergh District Council backed the proposals last year but the decision was referred to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister after objections, including from Suffolk County Council, were raised.

Around 50 campaigners from the Shotley Parish Alliance, which is against the proposals, turned out in force at Babergh offices in Hadleigh yesterday as the hearing got underway.


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In his opening statement to Mr Frost, David Cooper, representing developers Haylink, said: “The objections of the county council are not based on proper evidence and the other objections that exist from all the parties really don't amount to much.

“They certainly don't amount to enough for the secretary of state to come to the conclusion that this important site, that can provide an important number of affordable housing, should be refused.”

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He also warned that if planning permission was not granted then Haylink would push ahead with plans to build 404 retirement homes at HMS Ganges - a proposal which has already been given the all clear.

Meanwhile Morag Ellis, representing Babergh District Council, said her client supported the proposal because regeneration of the site is urgently required and can be achieved through a housing-led mixed use development.

But Dr Wendy Lalass, representing the Shotley Parish Alliance, said her clients had not had an opportunity to discuss alternatives to the plans and would have liked to have put forward their own proposals.

She also said the site performed badly when measured against criteria set out by Government officials for such developments.

The Shotley Parish Alliance's case is that Haylink's plans are contrary to national and local policies on sustainability and would destroy the character of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by generating unacceptable volumes of traffic along the B1456.

Local people have so far raised nearly £20,000 to pay for planning and traffic experts to represent their case, which is expected to run for three to four weeks.

Laurie Mayer, spokesman for the Shotley Parish Alliance, said: “The argument the developers are putting forward is that something has to be done with the site so we must go through with the plans. However although it's true we all agree that Ganges must be redeveloped that doesn't make this the right answer. It is an issue of sustainability - not only for our generation but for generations to come.”

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