Concern over future of former vicarage housing hub project

Sarah Quinlan was disappointed by the result of the planning application Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Sarah Quinlan was disappointed by the result of the planning application Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

The future of a project to create a new hub at the centre of a former village vicarage remains uncertain over eight months since a planning application was lodged.

The Glebe Meadow Westleton CIC is hoping to build 20 new bungalows behind the village’s redundant vicarage, which would then become a social hub for people aged over 65, who would all be local residents.

The planning application was sent to East Suffolk Council in July 2019 but has been plagued with problems ever since and has yet to make it in front of a planning committee.

The project is now due to be looked at next week, but under coronavirus measures the council’s planning committee will not be meeting with the plans instead being considered by an advisory panel meeting behind closed doors before planners have the final say.

Project director Sarah Quinlan is concerned that this means that the application is likely to be turned down.

“We know the planners have been against this partly because of technical reasons and it’s partly outside village boundaries,” said Ms Quinlan.

The group were given the option to have the application heard sooner through the new process of wait for a committee meeting. However, it’s unclear when this would happen.

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Those involved in the project have been left incredibly frustrated by the whole process.

“We have been pushing so hard to get this in front of a planning committee,” said Ms Quinlan.

“It should have been there in September or October.

“They have taken as long as they could.”

A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: “The council has been unable to consider all aspects of the proposal until now as additional information has had to be requested throughout the process as it was not included in the initial submission.

“Our officers have been in regular contact with the applicant’s agents about the information required and the timelines.

“Emergency procedures have been put in place to determine applications which are now set out in the constitution, the north and south advisory panel.

“This application is being taken to the new panel for consideration and the report for it is live on our website.

“The applicant has been made aware of the report, new procedures and processes to offer any further comments via their agent.”

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