Wickham Market: Plans for 38 affordable homes at Deben Court set for green light

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme for nearly 40 affordable homes on the site of a former Victorian workhouse and infirmary will soon go back under the microscope.

A report to Suffolk Coastal District Council’s north area development control sub-committee recommends the plans for Deben Court, in Chapel Lane, Wickham Market, be given the green light.

The development - put forward by Flagship Housing Group - is for 38 affordable homes.

A decision was deferred at a planning meeting in January to allow committee members to inspect the site and the surrounding area.

Deben Court, which is made up of the former Plomesgate Union Workhouse and an associated infirmary, will be demolished under the proposals.

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The two properties currently accommodate 32 residential units that are let by Suffolk Heritage Housing Association – part of the Flagship Housing Group – as affordable dwellings. However they are understood to be in poor condition and require substantial refurbishment.

Instead of selling the site it was decided to go ahead with its redevelopment and provide more affordable homes, for which Flagship believe there is a clear demand.

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Existing tenants will be rehoused in the new accommodation or if they prefer can apply for properties elsewhere.

The application also proposes upgrading access to the site.

The plans have been strongly objected to by a number of bodies, including Wickham Market Parish Council.

It has written to the district authority saying: “Chapel Lane is not appropriate to take the additional vehicular and pedestrian traffic that will arise as a result of this development.

“The lane itself is very rural in nature being narrow without pavements for much of its length and generally not fit for the purpose proposed. The parish council fears that the increase in usage could result in a serious accident along the lane and consequently it feels it has no option but to object.”

However it adds that it agrees the site is in need of development and has little problem with the design of the scheme.

Suffolk Preservation Society and the Victorian Society have also raised concerns over the loss of a heritage asset, while there have been 12 letters of objection sent to the district council and one letter of support.

The report, to be considered by the development committee at a meeting on Thursday, April 28, recommends approval subject to a number of conditions, including an agreement to ensure the homes are affordable.

It concludes that on balance the scheme is favourable because the buildings on the site have not been listed for protection, there is no objection from the highway authority and not re-developing could lead to a loss of affordable housing.

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