'Unreasonable' planning demands threaten future of vicarage development
PUBLISHED: 07:30 28 November 2019
A group hoping to build new homes for older people in a rural village is facing thousands of pounds in costs to resolve "unreasonable" planning issues.
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 residents, who would all be local people aged over 65.
A planning application for the site was submitted in July but has yet to be brought before East Suffolk's planning committee. Those behind the project say they are concerned that they are being faced with increasing problems in trying to have the plans moved to the next stage.
"They are asking us to do things that seem unreasonable," said the project's director Sarah Quinlan.
In particular Ms Quinlan said she was concerned about the project's section 106 agreement.
A section 106 is an agreement made between developers and the council to mitigate the impact of a development on the local community.
Ms Quinlan said that the group were also being asked to spend thousands of pounds having a viability assessment analysed.
The situation is even more critical the group say because they are running out of time to be granted planning permission.
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"We signed a 12 months option on the site," said Ms Quinlan.
"It took two years to negotiate with the church. So it's unlikely to be extended."
After the 12 months the church could decide to sell on the building.
"They could put it into auction or they could sell it to a developer," said Ms Quinlan.
In order to prevent this Ms Quinlan said it was important that the project went before the planning committee before the end of the year.
"Three and a half years of work could be wasted," said Ms Quinlan.
"More importantly this sort of development should be done not just in Westleton but in other parts of Suffolk.
"I have now put in a formal complaint about the process."
A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: "We are currently considering a planning application for 20 dwellings at Westleton and are proactively engaging with the applicants so we can make recommendations on the proposals as soon as all the required information has been received and considered."