Shotley development plan rejected
A SENIOR Government minister has rejected plans to build more than 300 new homes on the site of a former Suffolk naval base.A public inquiry took place earlier this year to decide whether or not to grant permission for 325 properties and accompanying retail and leisure facilities at HMS Ganges in Shotley, near Ipswich.
By Danielle Nuttall
A SENIOR Government minister has rejected plans to build more than 300 new homes on the site of a former Suffolk naval base.
A public inquiry took place earlier this year to decide whether or not to grant permission for 325 properties and accompanying retail and leisure facilities at HMS Ganges in Shotley, near Ipswich.
The proposals had previously been backed by Babergh District Council, which said “urgent regeneration” of the site was needed, but a decision was referred back to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister after objections, including from Suffolk County Council, were raised.
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Yesterday, it emerged Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, had refused planning permission for the development, mainly because the cost to the environment would be too great.
Campaigners against the plans said they were delighted at the decision, which follows the recommendations of a Government-appointed planning inspector.
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Laurie Mayer, spokesman for the Shotley Parish Alliance, said: “We do think the inspector has shown the commonsense and cool judgement we would have liked to see from the planning committee.
“Basically we feel we have made the site safe for the present but we want to secure it for the future with a development the peninsula can be proud of and in keeping with the recreational nature of the peninsula.
“It's a great result - no question about that - but it's not the end. We sincerely hope Babergh learns a lesson from this and will listen to the voice of local people. We would like to go forward with them.”
Richard Wrinch, chair of Shotley Parish Council, said: “We are pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed with us that this proposal is too large and will put too great a strain on the natural environment, local services and roads, we still have to find a solution that works.
“Shotley Parish Council is calling on Babergh District and Suffolk County Councils to take the initiative and work with local people, the HMS Ganges Association and potential developers to put together a plan that respects the history of the site and meets the economic and social needs of the area.”
Dave Wood, county councillor for Shotley Peninsula, said: “The inspector has listened to local people and recognised the impact that this amount of housing would have not just on Shotley, but on all the villages along the B1456 road to Ipswich. We knew that this development was in the wrong place.”
But Richard Watson, head of planning control at Babergh, said it was now prepared to consider other options for the site with developer Haylink.
“Although Babergh District Council is disappointed that the Secretary of State has refused permission for the development of the derelict former HMS Ganges site, we are cheered that she shares our view that doing nothing is not an option and that the principle of residential redevelopment has been established,” he said.
“The decision indicates that it is possible, perhaps through a reduction in the total number of dwellings and a different mix of employment and residential uses, that the problems of access, sustainability and traffic, that were the reasons the scheme was refused permission, could be reduced to an acceptable level.”
Martyn Roat, developer Haylink's project leader and a director of East London Estates, said he could not comment about the announcement at this stage and said the organisation would decide what to do in the near future.