Plans for vicarage hub housing turned down by planners
PUBLISHED: 12:13 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:13 09 April 2020
Plans to convert a disused vicarage into a hub for older people have been turned down by planners.
The Glebe Meadow Westleton CIC had been hoping to build 20 new bungalows behind the village’s redundant vicarage, using the former tied housing as a social hub for local people aged over 65.
The CIC had been waiting months to have the plans considered publicly by a full planning committee at East Suffolk Council.
However, following the coronavirus outbreak the plans were considered behind closed doors by a new advisory committee before being looked at by planning officers.
Now, a decision to refuse the plans has been made almost nine months after they were initially entered for the site.
A number of reasons were given for the refusal, among them was that the site would cause harm to “the historic significance of St Peter’s church” which sits nearby.
The planning officer’s report also raised concerns about the boundaries within which the houses would sit.
While the applicants accepted that some of the 20 homes proposed would sit outside the village boundary of Westleton, they argued that this was just a small proportion, namely five properties, and that the boundaries had only been changed to exclude these properties in the past three years.
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Nevertheless, the planners decided that the application did not meet any exceptional reasons to permit this.
While planners accepted that the site could bring some benefits to the local community it said that it did “not believe that the public benefits of the proposal against the less than substantial harm”.
Sarah Quinlan, from the Glebe Meadow Westleton CIC, said: “It is disappointing after four years of work.
“It’s a real shame.”
Ms Quinlan said that the council had offered to look through alternative locations but those on offer in the village were too far away for elderly people to walk to local amenities.
“We have told the Church of England we will not be exercising our option to buy the church vicarage,” said Ms Quinlan.
“We have urged them to offer other church properties that might be suitable for this type of project.
“I passionately still believe that this sort of project is needed.”
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