Suffolk Coastal approves 2,000 homes at Adastral Park - as developers seek to attract Apple and Facebook to business hub
PUBLISHED: 18:35 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:38 22 January 2018
Two thousand homes have been given the go ahead in east Suffolk – in a move that could also support a new business hub attracting technology giants Apple and Facebook.
Suffolk Coastal’s planning committee voted unanimously in support of the outline proposals for Adastral Park in Martlesham Heath during a special meeting held today.
It comes a decade after proposals were first raised and accounts for a significant part of the district’s future housing strategy.
Representatives from applicants CEG told the committee about their hopes for the development to become a “proper community” - and also outlined ambitious plans for neighbouring sites.
CEG’s David Lewis said the company had been working with BT to deliver “significant improvements” to the northern quadrant - a site to the north of the development. “Both BT and ourselves have aspirations to make the northern quadrant a world leading facility,” he added.
It is hoped to attract technology giants including Apple and Facebook and could be supported by a new higher education facility.
Head of planning, Philip Ridley, said the proposals would complement the Innovation Martlesham scheme, which has already established cluster of high-tech ICT companies at Adastral Park. CEG hopes to provide more details on the northern quadrant next year.
The application approved today included an £18m school for 1,800 pupils, £15m of highways improvements, green spaces, provision for leisure and retail and contributions to healthcare services.
CEG said BT considered it a “principle of honour” that the homes will have the UK’s “best broadband” speeds.
Concerns have been raised about the possible effect on the A12 – despite support from highways experts - as well as the effect on the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Representatives from Waldringfield and Martlehsam parish councils raised highways concerns. No Adastral New Town (NANT), which fought the proposals in the Supreme Court, spoke as an objector.
Speaking after the meeting a NANT spokesman said: “We are not surprised that Suffolk Coastal has today approved the outline application, it was pretty much a forgone conclusion, but many aspects of the application are still to be agreed through ongoing applications via the Reserved Matters process.
“NANT will continue to monitor the ongoing detail of this application as it comes forward and in the meantime we wait for the ruling of the ECHR on our legal challenge.
Martlesham county councillor Patricia O’Brien, also spoke as an objector, and questioned the legacy that would be left for future generations.
Councillors called for assurances the proposals would not change after approval – particularly the delivery of 25% affordable homes.
Committee member Geoff Holdcroft said he wanted the standard of development to become an “exemplar of what can be done in Suffolk Coastal”.
Many councillors spoke in praise of planning officer Ben Woolnough. The offer of a “plan-led” development, which had been arrived at following discussions between planning officers and applicants, was also welcome.
The committee’s Raymond Catchpole said he did not think there was a planning authority “anywhere that has been better prepared for an important application like this”.
Committee chairman Debbie McCallum said the application represented an “absolutely brilliant opportunity to move forward”.
“We are never going to get everything we wanted and we are always going to upset some people, but from what I hear today there are going to be far more people who are happy than not,” she added.
Speaking after the meeting, John Kenny development director at CEG said: “Today’s decision to approve this application will enable a sustainable development which will deliver extensive new and improved infrastructure, including education and health provision and a £15million investment into transport improvements, alongside new homes. We have taken a very sensitive approach, with high quality design which respects the setting, with extensive green and open spaces.
“We are also working closely with BT and the council to progress proposals to deliver high quality business space in the northern quadrant.”
The new homes are expected to be delivered by 2028.