Website problems hinder consultation on proposals for 560 new homes at Felixstowe

Exhibition showing plans for 550 homes, shops, care and community facilities to be built on countrys

Exhibition showing plans for 550 homes, shops, care and community facilities to be built on countryside on the edge of Felixstowe. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Problems with a council’s website have generated calls for an extension to the consultation period for the biggest housing development proposed in Felixstowe for 20 years.

Christchurch Land and Estates (Felixstowe) Ltd has submitted plans for 77 acres at Cowpasture Farm, off Candlet Road and Gulper Road to be used for 560 new homes, a community centre, small convenience store, 10 acres of open space and play areas, 60-bed care home, 50 assisted living units, business premises, and 25 acres of wildlife corridors.

However, residents trying to submit comments on Suffolk Coastal District Council’s website have found their submissions rejected, not recorded properly or only partly-recorded due to IT problems.

District councillor Kimberley Williams said people were getting “very frustrated” and feared many would not bother to leave their views.

She said: “This is a major prospective development for Felixstowe and we should be encouraging as many people as possible to give their views – whether they are against or for the project.

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“People are being very frustrated by these IT difficulties and it is unfair that when people really want to take part in the process they are finding they cannot.

“This consultation is taking place over the Easter holidays when many people are going away, and there is a danger here that people will try, find the IT hasn’t worked and then not try again.

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“I think the council should extend the consultation period on this application by Christchurch Land and Estates in order to give everyone a chance to express their views.”

She said a similar situation had arisen before on a Felixstowe issue when the council website suffered problems during the core strategy consultation.

A message on Suffolk Coastal’s web site apologised that due to major IT infrastructure work this week there could be short periods of system unavailability when attempting to view documents associated with planning or building regulation applications.

Previously published documents should still be available but there would be a delay for further new documents being uploaded until the work is completed.

A district council spokesman said yesterday afternoon that the system was up and running again but there were no plans to extend the consultation period for the planning application.

He said: : “Suffolk Coastal would like to apologise if anyone has been experiencing problems with our website.

“The system is now working and all documents and other planning applications can also be viewed.

“We would actively encourage anyone who has experienced problems to try again and submit their responses via email, to quoting the reference DC/15/1128/OUT.

“The consultation period as advertised is the April 22 and comments should be submitted by this date to ensure that they are taken into account in the determination of the application.

“However, any response received up until 24 hours before the application is decided will be taken into consideration in the determination.

“As all the documents are available on line for public inspection, we consider that there is suitable scope for interested parties to submit comments within the specified timeframe.”

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