Suffolk Coastal: Campaigners defiant over housing need

CAMPAIGNERS are still hoping to stand in the way of a regional housing blueprint as it moves into its formal consultation stage.

Protesters will continue their fight over where new homes should be built in Suffolk Coastal over the next 15 years, following the planning inspector’s decision to progress the district council’s core housing strategy.

Recent public examination, by independent Government inspector Mike Moore, found that proposed modifications to the council’s core strategy, including extra housing provision, could take a step closer to gaining official approval by undergoing formal consultation. But the inspector also requested the council submit an accompanying report, or sustainability appraisal, which includes the reasonable alternatives to the overall amount of housing, and the reasons for choosing the modifications.

The core strategy outlines where new homes will be built, including 2,000 for Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath, and between 1,000 and 1,400 in Felixstowe and the Trimley villages.

It has been opposed by campaigners from No Adastral New Town (NANT) and Save Trimley Against Growth (STAG) and Waldringfield Parish Council (WPC). Ian Kay, WPC chairman, questioned the council’s changing calculation of the overall housing figure, from the 7,590 laid out in the soon-to-be revoked Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), to the 11,000 derived from an independent assessment prepared by Oxford Economics in November 2010. Mr Kay said: “We didn’t like the figure of 7,590 and we like the figure of 11,000 even less. The Oxford Economics figure was done before recession, was over optimistic and was essentially a top-down study.”

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Janet Elliot, of NANT, said: “The inspector has indicated he is not content with certain areas and is very clear that there must be a new sustainability appraisal.

“We have never seen the calculations that led to the figures and have never had justification for putting that number of homes so close to an area of outstanding natural beauty.”

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The council maintains that the modifications incorporate changes in Government policy and the recent outcomes of court cases on other core strategies. Planning chief, Andy Smith said: “The stark reality is that unless we get an approved core strategy in place as soon as possible, this council will be virtually defenceless to prevent housing developers exploiting national planning policies - “the presumption in favour of development” - and building what they want where they want, as long as it can be called a sustainable location, of which there are many.”

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