Residents 'hugely concerned' over retrospective planning applications for controversial village homes
PUBLISHED: 16:30 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:36 03 April 2019
Residents of a picturesque Suffolk village are “hugely concerned” that the council could support three retrospective planning applications after a row over the height of controversial homes.
Villagers in Bures, near Sudbury, have been fighting the six-house development on Cuckoo Hill since October 2017.
The developer, the Stemar Group, started construction at the former slaughterhouse site in March 2017 after plans were approved in February 2015.
The development faced fierce opposition from residents and parish councillors after an independent survey, commissioned by villagers, found a height difference of 2.6 metres (8.5ft) from the original plans.
Babergh District Council’s enforcement team upheld complaints regarding the height and the developer then submitted a retrospective planning application for the whole site.
This application was unanimously refused by Babergh’s planning committee in July last year and officers at that time refused to split the decision into two separate plots.
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Babergh’s legal team also refused five individual Certificates for Lawful Development from the developer in January, stating that the houses do not fall within the scope of permission granted.
The developer’s appeal for the whole site is currently with the Planning Inspectorate.
Three further retrospective planning applications have now been submitted for plots one to four of the development, which will go before the council’s committee in the summer.
Clare Frewin, whose Grade II-listed house is overlooked by the development, said: “In the new applications, there seems to be the suggestion that the harm shown in July 2018 does not now apply to half the site.
“Plots one to four are just a few metres away and have the same level of harm as plots five and six for neighbours in the community.
“It is of huge concern that the case officer will support the three retrospective applications made.
“The developer seems to be calling all the shots.”
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Kevin Leigh, barrister at 33 Bedford Row, who represents the Stemar Group, said: “Both the council and the developer have worked very hard to reduce the ambit of what lies between them, and obviously to avoid costs on both sides, the officers have been given an opportunity to do what they should have done last year.
“Namely, formally acknowledge that plots one to four are not unacceptable in any meaningful way in planning terms that the council can realistically support on appeal.”
A spokesman for Babergh District Council said: “Following conversations with the applicant we consider that it is reasonable for the applicant to apply for further applications on the separate plots, and that these applications are not contrary to the refusal to issue planning permission last summer, which found the application unacceptable due to the significant harm caused by plots five and six of the development.
“These applications will now go through the formal planning process, including public consultation, before being taken to members of our planning committee to be judged on their merits.”