Row over Felixstowe housing leads to rejection of key sites for future

The 30-acre Walton Green North field has been earmarked for housing by Suffolk Coastal - but Felixst

The 30-acre Walton Green North field has been earmarked for housing by Suffolk Coastal - but Felixstowe Town Council wants it omitted from the area action plan. - Credit: Archant

Potential sites for more than 550 homes and land for a high-quality commercial enterprise have been struck out of a blueprint for a resort’s future after community leaders felt the suggestions would encourage developers.

Town councillors at Felixstowe said they did not want the 30-acre Walton Green North site between Candlet Road and Walton High Street identified for smaller family homes, or a nine-acre field behind Conway Close, Old Felixstowe, mentioned.

Walton Green – which had been earmarked for a Tesco superstore which was refused by planners – could also have included seven acres for a business park, not a new idea but one which failed to attract any interest when previously mooted, plus a community hall and sports and leisure facilities.

Exclusion of the sites – which Suffolk Coastal has already identified as suitable for future housing – would not prevent developers coming forward but would have stipulated the town council’s desires in advance and these would have carried great weight.

However, councillor Mike Deacon said his conscience would not allow him to vote for the town council’s input to the action plan for the future of the town if Walton Green North and Conway Close were mentioned.

He said: “Much of what the action plan will contain will be good news for Felixstowe as we plan for the foreseeable future of our town – plans for tourism, leisure and the town centre are welcome and I endorse them.

“However, I think to mention the Walton site and Conway Green will be seen as tacit support for this development.

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“Frankly, the size of the housing which could be put there appalls me and I am not convinced it is required.”

Mr Deacon said he supported “organic growth” of the town rather than allocating large greenfield sites and wanted to see brownfield land used first.

So far sites for 943 homes have been granted permission or are under construction on the Felixstowe peninsula, but planning officers say a further 850 sites are needed in the next decade.

Mr Deacon disagreed and said he believed the sites already secured – 823 of them in Felixstowe – were enough to satisfy the town’s needs for the next five years.

Councillor Andy Smith, chairman of the town council’s planning committee, challenged Mr Deacon to name the brownfield sites – bearing in mind only the Sunday market site had come forward as a possibility.

Mr Smith said: “Mr Deacon said he supports organic growth of the town – all the sites are immediately adjacent to the boundary of the town and if they are not organic growth then I don’t know what is.”

The aim of the comments proposed from the town council was to give the council a chance to have a say before plans for particular sites come forward, to influence those plans and stipulate what the resort wanted rather than wait for a developer to impose his view.

Mr Smith said if the council did not do this it would be “a dereliction of duty and an abdication of our responsibility”.