Plan to increase town's population by 50% is branded 'excessive'
PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 September 2019
Campaigners in Saxmundham have put their views to a public inquiry over proposals for 1,000 new homes, which they claim is "excessive".
The Suffolk Coastal Local Plan - now part of East Suffolk Council's future plans for the area's growth - proposes an 800-home Garden Neighbourhood between the market town and Benhall plus other housing.
Currently a local plan inquiry is being held by independent planning inspector Philip Lewis into contentious issues contained in the blueprint.
Before the session this week, the Saxmundham 'team' held a vigil with a "Save Our Sax" banner outside East Suffolk House, Melton.
Jeremy Smith, chairman of Saxmundham Town Council and the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said the group was seeking "a better solution" to the town's future growth rather than the plans for the 800-home project.
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He said: "These have been widely opposed by the residents of Saxmundham.
"The total allocation of around 1,000 new homes for Saxmundham is excessive - it would increase our town's population by some 50% - and is not required by the council's assessment of housing need, which has an excessive contingency provision of over 25%.
"The town council supports a strong but reasonable growth, of around 500 homes over the plan period, if located in the right places."
Opponents say the proposed site south of Saxmundham is "wrong and unsound, for a development on this scale", squashed between the railway line and A12. It would destroy the historic entrance to the town with urban sprawl, merge Saxmundham and Benhall, and ruin The Layers, a valued landscape and heritage area.
They believe a better site would be land off Church Hill, where perhaps 200 homes could be built.
East Suffolk Council said the number of 800 units is "specifically highlighted due to the need for a primary school" - the county council has advised that this was the required population for a school.
The council is looking to promote a comprehensive master plan approach for the Garden Neighbourhood which will provide the opportunity for specific details to be considered, once principals have been established, in an open and transparent manner with involvement from the local community.