Shotley: HMS Ganges housing plan gets seal of approval from Government
PUBLISHED: 12:49 03 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:17 03 February 2014
Plans for a 285 home development on the Shotley peninsula have today gathered pace after the Government gave the go-ahead for the controversial proposal.
Babergh District Council’s (BDC) planning committee voted 9/4 in favour of the development at the former HMS Ganges training base at Shotley Gate last November.
However the Department for Communities and Local Government said planning permission could not be issued until it had carried out a final review.
But it emerged today that government officials have concluded the Secretary of State will not have to be called in to rule over the matter, clearing the path for BDC and developers Haylink to work on plans to overhaul the former naval base which has stood derelict for more than a decade.
Protestors, including parish councillors from neighbouring Woolverstone and Chelmondiston, have previously raised concerns over increased traffic the development will bring through their villages and a lack of infrastructure to support the project.
It comes after a previous proposal by Haylink for 325 homes, which Babergh’s planning committee also approved, was overturned in 2006 by the Government’s planning inspectorate.
The site has not had any permanent use since the Royal Navy moved out in the 1970s. It was last used as a police training base until 2001.
Haylink insist they will regenerate the area by building 285 homes, a 60-bed nursing home and a hotel, as well as retail and commercial buildings.
They have pledged to retain, renovate and restore the site’s heritage features including the HMS Ganges mast.
However it is understood it could take up to a year before construction work begins due to complicated Section 106 agreements.
Simon Barrett, BDC’s lead member for economic development, welcomed the news.
“The former HMS Ganges site has been the subject of numerous planning applications over the years while the condition of the buildings on the site has deteriorated,” he said.
“Now there is a real opportunity for a mixed-use development to take place on the site which could do much to improve the condition of the site and its buildings, while also helping to improve housing supply and the local economy.”
Dave Jones, planning casework manager at the DCLG, said in a letter to the council: “The Secretary of State has carefully considered the impact of the proposal, and the key policy issues of promoting sustainable transport, delivering the wide choice of high quality homes, promoting healthy communities and conserving and enhancing both the natural and historic environment which this cases raises.
“In his opinion, the proposals do not: involve a conflict with national policies on important matters; have significant long term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider area than a single local authority; have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to substantial cross boundary or national controversy; raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or involve the interests of national security or foreign governments.”
Scott Bailey, planning and urban design manager at Haylink, said: “We think this is extremely encouraging news and look forward to going through the next stages.”