October 31 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Three lots of proposals for major housing schemes in Lakenheath have been approved amid deep concerns over education.
Tonight, members of Forest Heath District Council’s development control committee gave the green light for three separate planning applications which together would bring 288 homes to the village.
A key issue which was discussed in length at the meeting was education provision, as Lakenheath Community Primary School is almost at capacity and has no room for temporary accommodation.
Until a site is secured for a second school and it is actually built, children may have to be transported by bus to schools outside of the village, the meeting heard.
Councillor Roger Dicker said: “What I’m interested in is the education of the children, and we are short-changing them, it’s as simple as that.”
Councillor David Gathercole said: “The most important thing which should be on all our minds is the future of our children and their education.”
But despite a variety of concerns raised the following applications were approved: Elveden Farms Ltd’s plans for up to 140 homes in land west of Eriswell Road, a proposal by Bennett Plc for 67 homes in land off Briscoe Way and an application for up to 81 homes in Rabbit Hill Covert, Station Road, by Forest Heath District Council leader James Waters.
An extra condition was attached to the permissions which said the phasing and timing of the delivery of the schemes would be negotiated to make sure that infrastructure was in place.
After the meeting, Emma Vincent, headteacher of Lakenheath Community Primary School, said: “I’m pleased the planning applications weren’t approved in a straightforward fashion and a condition has been attached to them.”
She added: “I’m sure the governing body of the school looks forward to working with Suffolk County Council and Forest Heath District Council to make sure appropriate temporary provision is put in place for the education of the children so nobody is put at a disadvantage.”
She said it was great a new school was set to be built, but her school’s concerns were around what happens in the meantime.
Lakenheath Parish Council also opposed all three proposals, and had threatened to commence legal proceedings if they were approved.
While recognising the need to deliver housing, the parish council feels it must be sustainable and holistically planned to meet infrastructure requirements.
Michael Robson, of Cerda Planning and who was representing the parish council, said after the meeting: “We will be taking legal advice. We need to look at the minutes of the meeting and then we will take a view as to our next steps, but we haven’t discounted any options available to us.”
The parish council also objects to plans for 750 homes for Lakenheath which are at the consultation stage.
A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council said in the absence of an up-to-date Local Plan, the council uses the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
This framework requires planning authorities to demonstrate is a five-year supply of developable land and says they should also adopt the approach of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
A review - the Single Issue Review - is currently under way to look at housing numbers and distribution across the district.
The spokesman said if the decisions on these applications had been delayed to resolve the review - which could take about 18 months - the council could have faced appeals and costs due to the non-determination of the applications.