Sudbury: County renews commitment to 1050-home development

Part of the site that is earmarked for the new Chilton Woods development near Sudbury

Part of the site that is earmarked for the new Chilton Woods development near Sudbury - Credit: Archant

The county council is looking to invest £1.6million to get a proposed 1050-home development in west Suffolk back on track.

Plans for the 270-acre Chilton Woods development to the north of Sudbury have been in the pipeline for more than a decade. But the project hit major setbacks when two successive developers pulled out of the scheme.

Chilton Woods is seen as one of Suffolk’s key sites for delivering much needed additional housing and employment over the next 20 years. It would provide more than 40% of the new houses allocated for the Babergh District Council area.

Landowners Suffolk County Council’s first development partner, Ashwells, was forced to withdraw after it went into receivership.

Then Redrow Homes was on the verge of releasing a master plan for the area - which stretches from behind the Tesco superstore to the edge of Waldingfield Road - when it withdrew in March, leaving the scheme in doubt.

The company queried costs for installing electricity to the site, which were initially estimated at £3m but rose to £13m for a new substation and undergrounding of cables.

The county council has just renewed its commitment to the project. At a meeting next week, councillors will be asked to approve funding of up to £1.6m to develop the scheme to the outline planning application stage, which a council spokesman said would give “more certainty” to potential developers.

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He said: “This is a key development for Suffolk and we want people to know that we are committed to making it happen. We are doing some of the initial up front work and although the council will incur the costs, we will make it back on the sale of the land.”

In view of the current economic climate, the council may have to consider selling the land to more than one developer.

Jenny Antill, Babergh councillor for the proposed development area, said she was pleased the county was prepared to “kick start” the project.

She added: “Getting outline planning permission is an investment in the future and it will give developers one less hurdle to jump over.

“The houses included in the plans, particularly the affordable housing provision, are greatly needed in this area.

“It’s a big scheme and lots of other important issues are hanging on it, so it is vital to get things moving.

“There are still infrastructure issues that will have to be resolved, but if the county is prepared to act as project manager and stick with a master plan and a holistic scheme for the whole area, it should be deliverable - even with multiple developers.”

Original plans for the site included an industrial area, a community centre, a school, shops, a pub and 75 acres of “green” land.

Sudbury mayor Adrian Osborne said he hoped the community aspects of the development would still be central to any future plans.

“The community facilities are key to this scheme and I hope that going forward, provisions such as a community centre, woodland area and school will still be at the heart any plans,” he said.

“The viability of the Chilton Woods site has to be right for that whole area of Sudbury.”

The county council’s cabinet will discuss the funding proposal at a meeting next Tuesday.