Coastal areas targeted for new homes

LARGE areas of the Suffolk countryside could see an explosion in the number of new homes under the latest proposals, it has emerged.

Simon Tomlinson

LARGE areas of the Suffolk countryside could see an explosion in the number of new homes under the latest proposals, it has emerged.

The announcement was met with audible dismay at a meeting last night to discuss a fresh housing blueprint put forward by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA).

The organisation, which represents the interests of the region, has been asked by government to review its East of England Plan and extend its framework from 2021 to 2031.

EERA has put forward four scenarios in its consultation which would see between 26,060 and 33,650 homes built each year from 2011 to 2031.

Under one option, the location of new homes could be dictated by long-term trends such as people living longer and the influx of elderly residents to Suffolk.

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This would mean massive increases in retirement hotspots, which would have to absorb twice as many properties compared to the other scenarios.

Waveney District Council's allocation would rocket nearly 300% from 290 new homes per year to 850 - leaving them with an extra 11,200 over the 20-year period.

Suffolk Coastal would experience a two-fold increase to 1,100 per year, while Mid Suffolk and Babergh's share would also go up dramatically.

Ipswich, being a built-up area, would see its allocation drop.

One member of the 100-strong audience said he was worried coastal areas could suffer the brunt of the expansion when infrastructure was already limited.

Speaking at the meeting at Endeavour House in Ipswich, he said: “To say I am concerned would be a huge understatement.

“You are looking to put a large proportion of people on the coast, where we have had the removal of health services, education, employment and other provisions. It is quite bizarre.”

However, Adrian Cannard, head of planning and housing at EERA, said councils would be given the flexibility to meet the needs of villages.

Another plan is to continue with the existing target, broadly based on the views of councils.

A further option would be to grow Chelmsford into a city and create three new settlements of up to 20,000 homes in Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Essex.

The other promotes growth around successful business locations where new jobs are attracting workers.

Concerns were also raised whether public finances were healthy enough to sustain the growth and if it could be done in an environmentally friendly way.

Steven Wells, Ipswich Borough Councillor, said he felt the process was a done deal and urged EERA to stand up to government over the issue.

For more information on the consultation, visit