Suffolk needs to build 70,000 new homes over next 15 years - but where will they go?
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk is a growing county – and council officials believe it will need 70,000 new homes to accommodate its growing population between now and 2031.
That would bring the number of homes in Suffolk up to 400,000 – providing somewhere to live for a population of 830,000 (up from 743,000 this year).
The new homes will be spread across the county in a mixture of developments.
Some will be in small groups in villages or market towns – but economies of scale dictate that these are likely to be executive homes out of the price range of many local people.
Others will be in larger estates where developers can afford to provide enough homes that are affordable for those on modest incomes – it is that size of development that is being proposed for Framlingham.
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At the top of the scale there are proposals for new communities like the 2,000-home development next to Adastral Park at Martlesham, the Northern Fringe of Ipswich, or the major developments planned at Bury St Edmunds.
The 70,000 figure forms part of the application to the government for more powers to the region under devolution – and county council leader Colin Noble said it was vital to see further new developments being built across Suffolk to give people the chance to get on the housing ladder.
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He said: “The decision on new homes is a matter for the districts. But councillors and residents need to be aware that we do need to see new homes in Suffolk.
“If you want young people who have been born and brought up in places like Framlingham to stay in their home town – or want to attract new people into the area then you have to have the housing for them to live in.
“Otherwise they will just become communities for the very rich – and I’m not sure that’s really what people want to see.”
The proposed new community at Martlesham would include shops, business premises, and new schools serving an area that has seen phenomenal growth over the last two decades.
Among the 2,000 homes there would be 600 affordable homes – and as well as having close links to Adastral Park it would also have easy access to communication links including the A12 and A14.
It’s development is a crucial element of Suffolk Coastal’s housing strategy – which is due to provide 7,900 new homes between 2010 and 2027.
Underpinning all this is the government’s aim to build more “affordable” homes for sale to young people aged under 40 – part of a policy re-announced by Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday after being included in his party manifesto before May’s general election.
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Building more than 350 new homes would damage the very nature of what makes Framlingham a ‘lovely place to be’, say campaigners.
Persimmon Homes’ plans for 95 homes on the B1119 Mount Pleasant Road will go before Suffolk Coastal District Council’s (SCDC) planning committee today. If approved, it would include a range of one to five-bedroom houses, including 31 affordable homes.
It comes at the same time as Taylor Wimpey’s plans for 163 homes off Fairfield Road is going through the appeal process, with Hopkins Homes already building 99 homes in Station Road.
The three developments together would boost housing numbers in Framlingham by 30%. Last month, the district council also approved plans for four flats and 10 houses on land between Vyces Road and Brook Lane.
Under Government targets, SCDC must build at least 7,900 new homes by 2027, with 350 earmarked for Framlingham. Since 2010, around 100 houses have been built in the town, with a further 143 approved, leaving a shortfall of 106 homes.
Christopher Sharpe, chairman of FRAm (Framlingham Residents’ Association), said: “These big developments exceed housing growth above and beyond the requirement in a very short time scale. Mount Pleasant and Fairfield Road would have a significant impact on infrastructure, but also the nature and character of the town. Framlingham has a unique quality. It has this fantastic castle, the lovely market square, beautiful buildings, the schools are good and it’s a lovely place to be.
“The impact will be on healthcare, on the primary school, on pre-school provision. The surgery is already oversubscribed by 2,500 patients. We want to see development appropriate to the infrastructure and the infrastructure improved to cope with development.”
New primary school children would have to travel to nearby schools until Framlingham’s Sir Robert Hitcham’s Primary School could be extended.
Planning officers at SCDC have recognised that the application represents a substantial amount of housing, but said that it remained proportionate in scale, provided a wide range of homes and “particularly essential” affordable homes. The benefits and the presumption in favour of sustainable development were said to be balanced against any harm resulting from the development. Persimmon Homes had originally wanted to build 100 homes at Mount Pleasant. The application was refused in February, with an appeal to be heard in January.
Lavenham creates neighbourhood plan
To give them an element of control over future development in their historic village, the people of Lavenham have put together a neighbourhood plan which is currently out for public consultation and approval.
The latest housing needs survey carried out by the parish council showed that Lavenham is still short of about 50 homes to accommodate local people who want to remain in the village.
The most recent housing development which has been built on the former Armorex factory site was passed with just 20% affordable housing as opposed to Babergh’s target figure of 35%. Parish council vice chairman Roy Whitworth said: “The housing situation is one of the main reasons why we put together the neighbourhood plan, which is being commented on at the moment.
“We didn’t feel that we were properly taken notice of in the development that has already taken place in the village.
“It was quite a struggle to get the developer to agree to 20% affordable housing in the end – and for properties that should be for local people.
“It appealed to us very much to have a document that essentially set out what the village wanted and needed.”
Neighbourhood planning has been designed by the Government and implemented by district councils to give communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.