Unique scheme 'would secure coastline'

THE future of a vulnerable stretch of the Suffolk coastline and nearby homes will be secured if a groundbreaking scheme to raise more than £2million for sea defences is approved, according to a new report.

By Richard Smith

THE future of a vulnerable stretch of the Suffolk coastline and nearby homes will be secured if a groundbreaking scheme to raise more than £2million for sea defences is approved, according to a new report.

A plan to sell farmland for housing developments in Bawdsey, Hollesley and Alderton, near Woodbridge, and use the money raised to bolster the defences at East Lane, Bawdsey, is a unique approach nationally.

But householders in Bushey Lane, Hollesley, where six homes are earmarked for farmland, are not convinced by the scheme and the district council is recommending that councillors visit the villages before making a decision on three planning applications.


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Suffolk Coastal has produced a report, which will be discussed on March 28, although the aim is to have a site visit and then make a decision on April 25.

The East Lane Trust, a not-for-profit charitable organisation, wants permission for 11 homes at East Lane, eight homes in Hollesley Road, Alderton, and six homes in Bushey Lane.

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The chosen sites have been gifted to the trust by three local landowners/farmers. They will not make a profit through any deals and the aim is to raise between £1.99m and £2.2m from the land sales which will cover the £2.2m cost of rebuilding the sea defences at East Lane.

The council report says: “If successful, this enabling development will secure the long-term future of East Lane in this case for at least 20 years and with future maintenance of the defences up to 50 years.

“The principle of enabling development to provide funding has been accepted previously in respect of the funding of listed building repairs.”

However, all three sites are on greenfield land that is part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the council admits that “each development advocated clearly departs from the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan and is contrary to the countryside and housing policies of the Development Plan”.

Suffolk Coastal has allowed the development of similar sites for affordable housing for local needs - but these current proposals are unprecedented.

Philip Ridley, head of planning services, said: “It will have clear conflict with national and local policy and were members minded to allow the developments, the cases would need to be referred to the Secretary of State for possible call-in.

“Are the circumstances at East Lane considered to be sufficiently unique when compared with funding problems associated with other coast protection/sea defence work and indeed other important public projects?

“For example, coast protection at Dunwich and Slaughden and the provision of health facilities at Saxmundham and Woodbridge.”

He added the council would have to consider the potential impact upon adjacent residents who would not have expected the greenfield land to be developed.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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