Thousands of homes to be built in East A

CONSULTANTS have earmarked three towns in Suffolk and Essex as potential “key centres” each of which might have to take thousands more homes than already planned.

Laurence Cawley

CONSULTANTS have earmarked three towns in Suffolk and Essex as potential “key centres” each of which might have to take thousands more homes than already planned.

The study - by private consultancy firm Arup - was published yesterday by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) when its planning panel met in Bury St Edmunds.

Based on expected housing needs in the lead up to 2031, the report cites Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester as “key centres with the potential to accommodate regional scale growth”.

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The report states that those areas highlighted for regional scale growth could see single developments which reach or exceed 20,000 homes.

It is understood the homes mentioned in the report are over and above the 123,400 already planned for Essex and 58,000 for Suffolk in the lead up to 2021, of which 8,000 are for Bury and 15,400 for Ipswich.

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EERA, which yesterday faced a protest by UKIP members when it met in Bury, said the list of locations did not mean either it or councils in the area supported the study's proposals.

In relation to Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester the report said growth would most likely take the form of urban extensions rather than major new settlements. It said Bury St Edmunds' long term future could be to take new homes which might previously have been built in the Cambridge area.

Richard Atkins, cabinet member for planning on Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We don't know where we would put 20,000 homes because the boundary is very tight and we have been growing beyond the amount required in the last few years.

“It is not that we are opposed to growth but we are running out of space.”

Terry Clements, St Edmundsbury Borough Council's planning portfolio holder, said: “We know we have growth area status, but even at the lower levels of development there would have to be a substantial investment in infrastructure.

“There is pent up demand for housing in this area. As for the longer term, to put some extra 20,000 homes in Bury the extra pressure would be massive.”

Colchester Borough Council leader Anne Turrell said: “Along with everyone else we will have the opportunity to have a proper look at these proposals over the course of the next few months.

“What will be critical is that we come to a view which is in the best, longer-term, interests of Colchester, its residents and businesses.”

EERA planning panel chairman Derrick Ashley said: “I want to stress that what has been published is a list of potential locations for new development and it does not mean that the assembly, or local authorities, are supportive of the study's proposals.

“The Assembly and its member councils will need to carefully consider the benefits and impacts of major developments outlined in the study, together with other evidence, to come up with different options for growth for public debate later in the year.”

Future proposals for the region will be put out to public consultation later this year.

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