Suffolk’s heritage team urges councils to plan better communities

Fiona Cairns, Director of Suffolk Preservation Society is pictured in Lavenham.

Fiona Cairns, Director of Suffolk Preservation Society is pictured in Lavenham. - Credit: Archant

Heritage watchdog the Suffolk Preservation Society has today repeated its concerns about development proposals in the county as more planning applications are lodged in villages and towns.

Director Fiona Cairns said The SPS believes that the planning system in the county is totally one-sided – in favour of developers.

She said: “We say ‘yes’ to proportionate housing growth and ‘yes’ to more affordable homes guided by local knowledge and enshrined in neighbourhood plans which have been shaped by local people.

“We say ‘no’ to vast and blandly designed housing developments in the wrong place, which are approved merely to generate revenue for local councils.”

The SPS was frustrated that councils were not well prepared to deal with major applications.

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Ms Cairns said: “District and borough councils need to be prepared to use the powers that they have to ensure a balance between the interests of developers, landowners and existing communities.

“A key element in this ‘rebalancing’ is the need for a five-year housing land supply.

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“The fact that neither Babergh nor Mid Suffolk have achieved this basic requirement means that their communities are especially vulnerable to developers getting approval for inappropriately large and poorly designed developments.

“Thurston, for example, has had approvals given in recent months for more than 800 new houses which will totally change the character of the village.”

She welcomed the fact that Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal Councils had adopted supplementary planning documents to guide and co-ordinate the phasing of development in Ipswich Garden Suburb and Adastral Park respectively.

But Ms Cairns warned: “We are concerned that there is a real dearth in Suffolk of council staff with the right level of design skills and, therefore, the confidence to recommend changes or refusal on the grounds that a development is, quite frankly, an eyesore.

Councils must now invest in improving the quantity and quality of their planning teams to work with all interested parties to get the balance right and not be there to rubber stamped every developers’ whim.”

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