September 19 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, August 16, 2014
A group of neighbours have called into question a district’s planning strategy amid plans to merge a town’s police and fire service headquarters.
Plans are already in place to move Woodbridge police officers from their base in Grundisburgh Road to the local fire station in Theatre Street.
But residents of Grundisburgh Road and adjoining Moor’s Way believe the move has automatically opened the door for permission to be granted for six new homes to be built on the site.
The group of neighbours object to the police station being vacated and knocked down for housing, but would sooner see it converted into four large flats, preserving the exterior of the pre-war building.
Suffolk Coastal’s head of planning insists that the two proposals are distinct, and that any decision would be made in accordance with planning policy, but admitted that it was “unsustainable” for the police to remain in Grundisburgh Road.
The plan to merge services was announced at the end of May, with residents invited to view designs at the fire station on June 5. Flyers and letters were also sent to residents, councillors and local businesses.
Developers want to demolish the police station and build six new homes – a proposal residents argue would worsen existing drainage problems, add to traffic congestion and put pressure on a narrow junction connecting the two roads.
Moor’s Way resident John Brownsord also objects to what he called the “aggressive advancement” of the building line towards Moor’s Way and Grundisburgh Road. He said: “People accept that there may be a change at the building but we object to the way it has been handled.
“The town council has given its approval without consulting the people who will be most affected.”
Resident, Paul Fletcher, said: “To put six homes there is to overload a site that can’t take it. It’s totally out of character with the area.”
David Houchell, who owns the building and design centre next door to the site, said: “We have been here since 1946. We have never had conditions put on what we do and that’s how I intend to keep it. If we face too many problems with people moving in and complaining about noise, I will have to consider closing.”
Mayor of Woodbridge and district planning chief, Geoff Holdcroft said: “There are two separate issues here. One is a matter driven by economics; of either retaining a police service in the town or risking losing it.
“The second is what happens to the police station. The application will go through normal planning procedure. I understand that there is a problem with traffic. We have to be mindful of the need for housing but it has to be sustainable and the highways authority must be satisfied. Due process will need to be followed and I will gladly speak on behalf of residents.”