Questions asked over development delay

QUESTIONS have been asked why a £480million housing and industrial development has fallen a year behind schedule.

Dave Gooderham

QUESTIONS have been asked why a £480million housing and industrial development has fallen a year behind schedule.

Speculation over the Chilton Woods development - which also includes plans for a school and community facilities - is rife amid a national housing crisis.

Cambridge-based developers Ashwell last night declined to comment on the delays.

The development delay for the 300-acre site, near Sudbury, is also a massive blow for first time buyers hoping to take advantage of more than 240 affordable homes designated in the plans.

Peter Clifford, chairman of Chilton Parish Council, said: “Our understanding is that the first planning applications will be submitted during 2009 with a project start date of 2010.

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“But Ashwell's chairman in his annual report that building work would start this year. I suspect the company's plans have been affected by the housing downturn and it has had to review its position.

“This delay is especially worrying at a time when affordable housing is so vital in the area and we just have to hope that it goes ahead sooner rather than later.”

Fears over delays to the project were first voiced when the first batch of planning applications were put back. According to Ashwell's 2007 annual report, detailed planning applications were due to be submitted last February with construction due to start in the summer.

Jenny Antill, whose Babergh District Council ward covers the site, said: “If you read between the lines, you would assume that the housing market has prevented Ashwell from rushing forward to seek planning permission for Chilton.

“We are concerned about the delivery of affordable housing even if you can understand the developers' reluctance. But we need answers as to what the company is going to do as it has gone very quiet of late.”

The development plans also include space for a community woodland while a sixth of the site has been designated for employment use.

When questioned about the delays, a spokesman for Ashwell said: “No comment”.

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