Village voices fears over homes plan

MORE than 150 people packed out a village hall to have their say on proposals to build 325 homes on the former HMS Ganges site in Shotley.Government planning inspector Christopher Frost visited the village yesterday to hear evidence from the public in two three-hour sessions.

MORE than 150 people packed out a village hall to have their say on proposals to build 325 homes on the former HMS Ganges site in Shotley.

Government planning inspector Christopher Frost visited the village yesterday to hear evidence from the public in two three-hour sessions.

Numerous residents from Shotley and the surrounding villages took up the microphone to speak about their concerns.

These mainly hinged around the impact the development, put forward by Haylink, could have on the B1456, the narrow and windy route through the peninsula.


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The increase in traffic that the additional homes would bring, the inadequacy of the road for the current population and the danger it would pose to pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, horse-riders and farmers were among the points raised.

People also expressed their worries about the affect the proposal would have on the unique environment the peninsula boasts, the lack of leisure and recreational facilities currently on offer and the need for more public transport.

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One of the staunch opponents to the plans, former BBC presenter Laurie Mayer, who is chairman of the Woolverstone Residents' Association, said in the meeting: “We believe the proposed development represents a wholly unacceptable and inappropriate urbanisation of a peninsula that is largely within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The notion that you can transplant more than a thousand people to the remote tip of a peninsula without jobs or services and magically make it sustainable is madness.”

Nicola Hammond told the meeting, held in the village hall, that nine cars had crashed off the road and into her daughter's front garden in Shotley, causing her to stop her children playing there.

She said: “Really the road isn't fit for any more cars. It is already up to capacity and over.”

Rosemary Blackburn, who has lived in Woolverstone for 25 years, said the road “directly affects my personal safety”. She told how there is no continuous footpath to the postbox, meaning she has to step out onto the road into oncoming traffic on a blind corner.

“The alternative is to drive to the postbox, which is a fraction of a mile and the police advice is that it is dangerous to park by the postbox,” she added.

One Holbrook High School pupil said he could not see how young people would benefit from the plans unless there was a youth club or similar venue where activities, such as live gigs, could take place.

A resident relayed her experience of the emergency services' response times to Shotley, which left her injured son waiting for one-and-a-half hours in the rain after a road crash.

Mr Frost opened the public inquiry earlier this month. The proceedings will assess whether planning permission for the properties and accompanying retail and leisure facilities should be given.

Babergh District Council had backed the proposals last year but the decision was referred to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister after objections, including from Suffolk County Council, were raised.

In his opening statement David Cooper, representing Haylink, had said: “The objections of the county council are not based on proper evidence and the other objections that exist from all the parties really don't amount to much.”

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