Suffolk Coastal: Planning inspector hears concerns at first day of examination into Core Strategy

Inspector Mike Moore started his public examination of Suffolk Coastal District Council’s (SCDC) Core Strategy yesterday.

The document has been fiercely opposed by campaigners who have challenged proposals to build 2,000 homes at BT’s Adastral Park in Martlesham Heath and between 1,000 and 1,400 homes in Felixstowe and the Trimleys.

Ian Kay, of Waldringfield, told yesterday’s hearing that he felt the proposed housing distribution was too uneven - with too much emphasis on the East Ipswich Policy Area (EIPA), including Adastral Park and the Felixstowe and Trimley villages. “The argument seems to be that putting houses next to jobs makes it more sustainable,” he said. “This argument is very suspect and therefore the policy is not sustainable.”

David Beaumont, a resident of Martlesham, echoed his comments, saying: “How can you prove this housing will be used by the people who work at Martlesham? Certainly, historically, that has never been the case.”

Barrister Justine Thornton, representing campaign group No Adastral New Town, said other alternative sites to Martlesham should have been considered in 2009 - when the council decided to increase the number of homes proposed from 970 to 2,000

Meanwhile district councillor John Kelso said there had never been any justification for the increase. Representatives from various developers felt the strategy did not go far enough in proposing around 7,000 homes for the whole district and that its “negative” language could restrict growth.

Suffolk Coastal’s planning chief Philip Ridley said he believed the Core Strategy provided a “positive and pragmatic” sustainable approach to future growth in accordance with national and regional policy. Andy Smith, SCDC cabinet member for planning, told the hearing the delay in agreeing the Core Strategy had left the council vulnerable to the threat of planning by appeal and therefore it was vital the document was approved as soon as possible.

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The authority’s Paul Shadarevian said other approaches - such as dispersed development - had been explored but were discounted because they were not sustainable in terms of infrastructure and services to support a larger population. Mr Moore will consider evidence over the coming weeks and once complete he will determine if the Core Strategy can be implemented.

N Today’s hearing is on housing and starts at 10am at the Riverside Centre, Stratford St Andrew.

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