Long Melford: Councillors criticise lack of communication over ‘major development’
13:53 13 June 2014
Councillors claim they have been kept in the dark over a controversial proposal to build 80 homes on the outskirts of their village.
Babergh members Richard Kemp and John Nunn have complained to the district authority for failing to keep them up to date about plans for a “major development” in Long Melford.
The application by Planware Ltd would could see 12 one-bedroom apartments, 21 two-bed apartments, 20 three-bed and 27 four-bed houses built on a 2.1-acre site known as the Old Coal Yard. The development, on land north of Ropers Lane near Rodbridge Hill, would contain 35% affordable housing.
In a letter to Babergh District Council, Mr Kemp said neither he nor Mr Nunn had received any interim communication from Babergh in respect of this “major development” other than a letter dated May 15, 2014.
Mr Kemp said: “Despite the fact that the would be developers have been at the site over the last six months, Babergh have been in meetings with the agents, and leading members have been involved, we as local members, elected by the people of the village, have had no early information from Babergh.
“Planning is not some secret process; it is part of local Government and should be open and transparent, and certainly local members should be informed at an early state of impending major development.”
According to Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s planning chief, Christine Thurlow, both councillors were informed by letter in accordance with current council practice. But she said the authorities were reviewing their approach to “pre-application engagement” with the aim of improving the service and facilitating early discussions with members, town and parish councils and the wider community.
She said some leading Babergh members were made aware of the development earlier as part of their strategic role in the ongoing transformation of the planning service.
Mrs Thurlow added: “The council is constantly striving to improve its services and the new approach will allow members and their community to become involved at a much earlier stage.
“This will improve openness and transparency about development proposals and allow everyone a greater understanding of all the issues and the process.”
Consultation letters have been sent to 133 properties close to the site including The Drays, Theobalds Close and Rodbridge Hill.