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Appeal over Woodbridge/Martlesham border homes rejected – but district land supply claim questioned

PUBLISHED: 11:42 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:42 21 April 2017

Suffolk Coastal's headquarters in Melton. Picture: RUTH LEACH

Suffolk Coastal's headquarters in Melton. Picture: RUTH LEACH

A planning inspector has turned down an appeal against refusal for housing at the border of Martlesham and Woodbridge.

Gladman Developments sought an inquiry after Suffolk Coastal rejected the bid in December.

The inspector dismissed the appeal, saying construction would harm the area, but called into question the council’s claim it had a five-year supply of housing land.

Gladman wanted to build 140 homes and a convenience store, with public space and play area, off Duke’s Park, Woodbridge.

It argued Suffolk Coastal could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing sites, and that the proposal should be considered sustainable and given permission.

Although Suffolk Coastal’s core strategy requirement for 7,900 homes from 2010-2027 fell short of an objectively assessed need for about 11,000 homes, the inspector acknowledged the calculation had been subject to a review. But, he said, the council had failed to publish issues and options for the review before the deadline set out in its own policy.

Inspector Philip Major accepted the council was pressing forward with a review and that its recently adopted Site Allocations and Area Specific Policies Document showed an almost 10% higher supply but said other factors could cause further delay, including a merger with Waveney to form a single council.

Although annual requirements had been exceeded in five of the last 13 years, Gladman said six of the last seven showed a shortfall.

Mr Major did not share the council’s optimism that improvement in 2015/16 was the sign of an upward trend. In reality, he said, a current supply of about three years was more realistic leading him to consider relevant policies ‘out-of-date’, meaning permission should be granted unless adverse impacts would significantly outweigh benefits. However, he rejected the appeal, saying the development would harm the character and visual qualities of the area.

A council spokesman said: “We are pleased to see the appeal dismissed and that the inspector has agreed with the council’s analysis of the harm that the development would have created.”

Suffolk Coastal said it would continue to defend the five-year land supply, and would produce a defence on that basis in an appeal against its refusal for 300 homes east of Bell Lane, in Kesgrave.

Gladman did not wish to comment.

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