Residents oppose social housing scheme
By Richard SmithA PACKED public meeting was warned last night one of Suffolk's most historic towns was in danger of becoming a “dehumanised” mass of bricks after every piece of green land had been built upon.
By Richard Smith
A PACKED public meeting was warned last night one of Suffolk's most historic towns was in danger of becoming a “dehumanised” mass of bricks after every piece of green land had been built upon.
Woodbridge mayor Neil Montgomery said the town council was concerned the attractive area would be turned into an urbanised environment where residents had double garages and patios without the benefit of gardens or birds.
He was speaking at the Evangelical Church Hall in Warwick Avenue, where more than 60 residents attended a meeting about the controversial plan to build 35 houses and flats off Haugh Lane, Woodbridge, for a social housing project for Suffolk Heritage Housing Association.
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All the properties would be rented at below market prices to people on the housing register and the meeting was told there was no guarantee the places would be filled by people with Woodbridge connections.
Martin Aust, operations director of strategic development for the association, said the house prices in the town had reached an astronomical level and people with professional careers such as teachers and ambulance workers could not afford a mortgage.
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He warned the one hectare of woodland off Haugh Lane was the last available site in the town for the association to buy and if it did not take this opportunity, it would not be able to ease the homeless problem in Woodbridge.
Mr Aust said there were 44 families in emergency accommodation in the town and 488 families were registered for needing housing. Last year there were 21 vacancies.
The Residents Against Haugh Lane Development Association handed in a petition of more than 400 people opposing the project.
Its secretary, Chris Sears, said it wanted surveys on wildlife, trees, drainage, access and to establish how gardens and trees of surrounding properties would be affected by excavation work.
Mr Sears said: “We are concerned that this site, which is isolated and comparatively remote from amenities, including shops, primary schools and bus routes, should be seen as suitable to house those who are already likely to suffer social disadvantage.
”We do not believe it is socially acceptable to marginalise sections of the community in this way. We believe a brownfield site could be found to provide rental accommodation for homeless Woodbridge families.
“Ideally, we would prefer planners to ensure that all future developments include a mix of private, social housing and/or low cost housing.”