Controversial ‘cheese wedge’ development recommended for refusal

A CGI view of the proposed homes as seem across the meadow from the riverside end of the site at Mel

A CGI view of the proposed homes as seem across the meadow from the riverside end of the site at Melton Hill Picture: HOOPERS ARCHITECTS - Credit: Archant

A proposal to create 100 new homes on the site of former council offices looks set to be refused.

Suffolk Coastal District Council’s planning committee is due to consider the application at Melton Hill, known locally as the “cheese wedges”, on Monday, November 26.

Developer Active Urban Woodbridge Limited (AUWL) withdrew its original application for the site in August this year before quickly submitting a second application.

The revised application saw a decrease in the number of affordable properties being built on the site, from 32 to 15.

As part of the application, the developer also applied for Vacant Building Credit (VBC) - a scheme promoted to encourage developers to use brownfield sites.

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To qualify for the credit, the council says a site must have “not been in continuous use for any six-month period during the last three years”.

Documents published ahead of the meeting state that the council does not believe the building to have been vacant for this length of time, having been occupied by the authority up until December 2016.

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As a result of this and the lack of affordable homes, the proposal is recommended for refusal.

Resident John Saggers said he was pleased with the proposed refusal of the plans.

“Despite the applicant’s efforts to reduce the amount of affordable homes by claiming a technicality within a new application, the planning department has, quite rightly, recommended refusal on the basis that the full policy-compliant number of affordable homes must be provided,” said Mr Saggers.

A spokesman for Active Urban Woodbridge Limited said: “We have worked constructively with officers at the council and are reassured that they remain supportive of the scheme in all regards, save for the question of whether Vacant Building Credit applies or not.

“We are firmly of the view that it does apply and do not agree with the council’s reasoning as to why it does not.

“Our approach is always to seek to be policy compliant on the delivery of affordable housing and we believe our developments are better places where they have a mixed and balanced community.

“Ideally we would have liked to be able to provide a policy compliant level of affordable housing. However, the scheme’s viability is such that we are unable to deliver that.”

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