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Woodbridge ‘cheese wedge’ homes decision cannot be made by referendum – planners

PUBLISHED: 17:05 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:05 05 October 2017

A CGI aerial view of the proposed development of the former Suffolk Coastal HQ site on Melton Hill, Woodbridge. Picture: HOOPERS ARCHITECTS

A CGI aerial view of the proposed development of the former Suffolk Coastal HQ site on Melton Hill, Woodbridge. Picture: HOOPERS ARCHITECTS

Archant

New homes labelled by opponents as “giant cheese wedges” are being recommended for approval – despite more than 330 objections.

Senior planning officers at Suffolk Coastal say the scheme for 100 properties on the district council-owned site at Woodbridge is bold and progressive, and the benefits outweigh the levels of harm identified, not the least the economic benefits it will bring to the riverside town.

Councillors sitting on the planning committee may take a different view next Friday when they consider a 97-page report on the scheme, but officers say the plans are acceptable.

Planning case officer Liz Beighton said: “The proposed scheme in the opinion of officers represents an interesting and progressive design solution for the site, offering direct views through the site to the River Deben and Sutton Hoo beyond.

“It is acknowledged by officers that the design is bold and unlike other developments in the locality, but this does not make the development unacceptable.

“The design approach selected is considered to be an acceptable and positive approach in this instance to take to reflect the myriad of constraints on and around the site.”

Among those objecting are Woodbridge Town Council, Melton Parish Council, the River Deben Association, the Woodbridge Society, Woodbridge Town Trust and Woodbridge Riverside Trust, and hundreds of residents.

Opponents say the buildings will look like a college campus and “giant cheese wedges” and there is “no justification for five-storey villas”, which will be a blight on the landscape.

Ms Beighton said: “It is acknowledged that the scheme has generated significant local objection, and the concerns of local residents are understood.

“However, this is not a reason to withhold the grant of planning permission as decisions are not and cannot be made by referendum, but instead need to be judged on their planning merits and in accordance with the relevant national and local planning policies.”

Active Urban (Woodbridge) Ltd want to use the 3.3-acre site – the council’s former offices on Melton Hill – for 100 homes in 14 blocks, some up to six storeys high, plus a community building and a retail unit, possibly a coffee shop.

Parking would be underground to create a car-free environment.

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