Approval of service station plans labelled “undemocratic” by councillors

PUBLISHED: 16:25 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:25 16 January 2020

Councillor Christopher Hudson Picture: SIMON LEE

Councillor Christopher Hudson Picture: SIMON LEE

Simon Lee Photography

The approval of plans to build a new service station off the A14 in Sproughton has been described as “undemocratic” by local politicians.

The new service stop, which would house a coffee shop, a petrol station, two drive-thrus and associated parking, at on land beside the southbound off-slip at junction 54 was given the go ahead by council officers on Wednesday, January 15 despite negativity from the local community.

However, local councillors have now hit out at the decision not to put the application before a planning committee who they say should have been given the chance to vote on the matter.

Babergh District Councils say however, that the size of the application did not reach the threshold for it to go before the committee.

Christopher Hudson, Suffolk County Councillor for Belstead Brook said: "It's a concern for me that a decision was made on the service station without being before a committee.

"It seems that such a major application for new infrastructure should do so.

"I have no doubt that some like the service station will be needed in the future but it should have been put before democratically elected representatives who may have raised issues not addressed in the applications itself.

"Speaking to Sproughton Parish Council, they feel like the council have bypassed democracy."

Mr Hudson's views are replicated by Babergh District Councillor for Sproughton Zac Norman who believes that such a large development of infrastructure should be decided by committee due to its impact on the surrounding area.

He said: "There are concerns over the amount of traffic that will be brought through the town including HGVs.

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"I feel that the parish council wanted just a final look at the plans. Just to put forwards their final thoughts on them.

"They should definitely have been told when the decision was made and if it was going before the committee before the decision was made."

A Babergh District Council spokeswoman said: "We ensure all planning applications are considered carefully through our formal processes, and concerns or comments raised during consultation periods are always considered before any decision is made.

"For this particular application in Sproughton, the site was significantly below the floorspace threshold as set out in our Planning Charter, which meant that it was not automatically referred to committee and was therefore approved in accordance with the scheme of officer delegation."

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