Stowmarket: Chilton Leys housing estate and school plan deferred after councillors express concerns
18:00 29 January 2014
The first phase of the biggest housing development earmarked in Stowmarket has been criticised after it was revealed the money put forward for key infrastructure was less than half of what was requested.
Mid Suffolk District Council has voted to defer proposals for 215 new homes, a school and an employment area as part of the Chilton Leys development. The site, which is to the west of the town, is expected to see up to around 800 homes built on it over the next 15 years.
An unanimous vote was recorded in today’s meeting to allow council officers time to work out revised plans because of concerns on a lack of affordable homes, health facility provision, transport links and sustainability.
More than £4million worth of infrastructure is needed to make the first phase of the development viable, according to council bosses. But the developer Taylor Wimpey has put forward only £1.9million.
John Pateman-Gee, from the council’s planning services, said less money was likely to come from the developer because of the first phase’s costs which include money to help build facilities at the primary school, archaeological works and the construction of roads and a junction improvement.
But councillor Sarah Mansel said it was “deplorable” that no affordable homes were being offered with Diana Kearsley, councillor for Gislingham, calling the news “appalling”.
Mid Suffolk had expected some 75 homes to be “affordable” in the first phase.
A statement from Rachel Eburne, councillor for Haughley and Wetherden where much of the development lies, called for the proposals to be rejected as there had been a “complete disregard” of the need to build affordable housing, she argued.
John Matthissen, councillor for Onehouse which includes a portion of the development, also opposed the proposals.
“The proposed houses, lacking any rented or shared-equity affordable housing, do not meet the needs of local people,” he said.
“The assertion from the NHS that capacity can be increased at Violet Hill health centre defies the everyday experience of the patients and staff who struggle daily to gain access.”
Bosses from Taylor Wimpey said it had invested “heavily” in the site. James Bailey, agent for the developer, said it was a “sustainable” development which had gone through local and national planning processes.
He said it would give “positive” economic growth in the district and in Mid Suffolk’s principal town.
Mr Pateman-Gee told councillors the developer was likely to make a profit of less than 20% from the first phase which was “a lot” lower than usual figures because of the costs.
He said much of the public transport budget from the £1.9million, some £336,000, could be put to other uses such as providing affordable homes as it was possible investment in a new bus for the estate would not be needed.
Instead an extension of the existing town services could be used to provide transport to and from the estate.
The plans could come back to councillors in two weeks but council bosses have warned that more time may be needed to revise the proposals.