Villages left ‘powerless’ by Local Plan delay

Lakenheath has seen dozens of applications for thousands of homes submitted

Lakenheath has seen dozens of applications for thousands of homes submitted - Credit: Archant

Four years since Forest Heath’s Local Plan collapsed its replacement is still not in force, leading to claims villages across the district are unprotected from development.

The plan, which set out the amount of houses that needed to be built up until 2031 and in what location, was challenged in the court in March 2011.

Since then the district council have had to start the process from scratch, with the revised plan set to go out for consultation this June and to be implemented in 2017, a Forest Heath spokesman said.

In the intervening years, villages such as Lakenheath and West Row have seen dozens of applications for thousands of homes submitted, with the council only able to apply national planning guidelines.

Ian Smith, the vice-chairman of Lakenheath Parish Council, said the situation left residents powerless to stop development.

He said: “There are applications for a total of 1,400 homes. The infrastructure and schools alone cannot take that much.”

Opposition from the village means the applications are yet to be decided.

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Mr Smith said: “In the original plan, after a consultation with residents, we decided on a number of 800 homes by 2031.

“That was pushing the upper limit of what the village wanted. We are seeking legal advice and as a council will be deciding whether to take our own judicial review.”

The original local plan was agreed in 2010, but became unenforceable after it was challenged by the horse racing community during a battle over plans for more than 1,000 homes on Hatchfield Farm, in Newmarket.

A Forest Heath spokesman said: “Forest Heath’s core strategy local plan was adopted in May 2010. Following a successful high court challenge in March 2011, parts of it were quashed.

“It removed the part which said how the new housing numbers required was to be distributed across the district.”