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Suffolk’s villages fear new homes will see their characters changed

PUBLISHED: 06:45 19 February 2018 | UPDATED: 06:45 19 February 2018

Villagers at Redgrave feel

Villagers at Redgrave feel "under siege". Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Suffolk is facing a explosion in the number of homes being built in the county over the next two decades – and while much of the attention has been focussed on the county’s historic market towns, villages are also preparing for battle.

Claydon Parish council chairman Chris Studd at the site where a plan for 300 homes was turned down off the Old Norwich Road between Whitton and Claydon.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNClaydon Parish council chairman Chris Studd at the site where a plan for 300 homes was turned down off the Old Norwich Road between Whitton and Claydon. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Over the last few days attention has focussed on two large-scale developments. Plans for a 300+ homes estate at Claydon were turned down by Mid Suffolk’s planning committee against its officers’ recommendation.

While proposals for a similarly-sized development at Rendlesham near Woodbridge are facing opposition from environmental groups including the RSPB.

But while large developments attract most attention, proposals for smaller developments in villages across the county are also provoking concern.

Last November Babergh council’s planning committee over-ruled the authority’s officers and voted against plans to build 24 new homes near the centre of Boxford.

Councillor Jessica Fleming. Picture: GREGG BROWNCouncillor Jessica Fleming. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Now in Mid Suffolk a battle is looming over three separate proposals to build at total of nearly 100 new homes at Redgrave near the Norfolk border.

These three developments are on different roads into the village – but local residents feel the cumulative effect of them could change the character of the village that only has 230 homes at present.

In 2015 council officials working under government guidance, said Suffolk needed another 70,000 new homes (up to 400,000 homes) by 2031 to provide for a growth in the county’s population from 743,000 to 830,000.

These figures have now been reassessed by districts and boroughs to come up with a growth figure by 2036. In Suffolk Coastal the authority is looking for space for 10,000 new homes and in Babergh and Mid Suffolk officials are looking to build 18,000. In West Suffolk, St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath could see another 18,000 homes built.

Many of these new homes will be in and around large towns – around Stowmarket, in Sudbury in Mid Suffolk/Babergh and near Ipswich (in and around Martlesham Heath) in Suffolk Coastal.

But many will be in relatively small developments in villages like Redgrave – and many other communities preparing for their own battles over then next two decades.

Villagers feel “under siege” from Suffolk housing applications

Villages living near the Norfolk border are feeling “under siege” because of the number of housing applications being put in, said their local district and county councillor Jessica Fleming.

She said: “The last meeting of Redgrave Parish Council saw the village community centre packed. 100 homes might not sound like many but when you’ve only got just over 200 homes in the village it is very significant.

“There are also real concerns in Botesdale and Rickinghall – they are drawing up a local neighbourhood plan to try to regulate development but they also feel really worried.”

Mid Suffolk cabinet member for planning David Whybrow said the authority was aware of the concerns about development.

He said: “We realise there are worries among local people, and if applications are approved we ensure there are safeguards to mitigate the impact on the existing communities.”

Tempers rise as planning battles seen in Suffolk’s attractive rural villages

Villages across the county have felt under siege from proposals to build new homes.

The long-running row in East Bergholt over plans for more than 200 new homes has caught the headlines – but there have also been skirmishes in Kersey, Boxford, Bildeston, Debenham, Chelmondiston, Botesdale and many other communities.

Developers often claim that bringing more homes to a village will allow them to safeguard local services like the pub, the village shop and the school. Plans of more than a handful of homes all have to contain an element of “affordable” housing available for social rent or as a mixed-tenure home.

However residents often fear that a large number of new homes will damage the rural nature of their village – and will bring with them more traffic. And developers often point out that many villages now have smaller populations than they did decades ago.

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A long-running feud between a Suffolk council and residents’ group has reignited over claims of a “secretive” meeting and concerns over a £500,000 cemetery extension.

They claim the new attraction will blight their homes – and say they were not told about the plans when they bought the properties.

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