Controversial Wolsey Grange development on Ipswich fringe rejected by Babergh planners

Artist's impression of the homes there were proposed for lane close to Poplar Lane, Sproughton.

Artist's impression of the homes there were proposed for lane close to Poplar Lane, Sproughton. - Credit: cont

Babergh district councillors last night said they had voted against officers’ advice and refused a 475-home development on the edge of Ipswich because its design was “appalling”.

Proposed housing site in Poplar Lane, behind the Holiday Inn, Ipswich.

Proposed housing site in Poplar Lane, behind the Holiday Inn, Ipswich. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Earlier in the day the same committee had given the green light to a separate proposal comprising of around 155 homes on land in nearby Pinewood.

The proposal for land to the north and south of Poplar Lane – known locally as Wolsey Grange – would have included a primary school, public open space, a children’s play area, employment land, as well up to 475 homes.

The meeting heard from James Bailey, on behalf of developers Taylor Wimpey, who said this was exactly the sort of development the Government was looking for local authorities to bring forward.

During the planning process, Babergh has received feedback from a number of statutory consultees including Highways England, NHS England, Anglia Water and the Environment Agency – none of which objected to the proposal.

However, the development has faced objections from Sproughton; Hintlesham and Chattisham; Pinewood; Copdock and Washbrook and Burstall parish councils.

Many of the concerns raised in the meeting, held at Babergh’s council offices in Hadleigh, were around the impact the development would have on roads and traffic and the strain it would put on already struggling health and education services in the area.

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Chairman of Sproughton Parish Council, Simon Curl, said: “It would be unsound to grant planning permission to the development in its present form.”

Taylor Wimpey was also criticised for falling short of requirements set out in Babergh’s core strategy document, which states that all residential developments should provide 35% affordable housing.

The application sets out that in phase one of the development, only 20% of its homes would be affordable.

Chairman of Babergh District Council, Nick Ridley, said: “It makes a mockery of the core strategy that we have accepted as the council.”

Mr Ridley put forward five policies to reject the application on, they were: lack of employment opportunities, character and quality of design, primary school education and medical facilities contribution and lack of affordable housing provision.

He said: “The flats look absolutely appalling, we don’t see them anywhere else in Babergh or in Ipswich and to put them on the highest piece of land just beggars belief.”

The committee members left the room to discuss the rejections, and when they returned the council’s corporate manager, Christine Thurlow, said the only option the council would be able to defend was that of design.

Barry Gasper, Babergh district councillor for the Brook ward, where the development would be situated, said: “This site is recognised as the gateway to Ipswich and should be represented by a high-grade scheme.

“This is a mundane urbanised development – it represents more of a prison wall, not a gateway. Is this what Babergh really wants?”

Planning committee member and district councillor, Dave Busby, said: “We need to look at this design and come up with a better one. I’m not against – just not there and not like that.”

The objection was upheld seven to six.

It is unclear whether Taylor Wimpey will resubmit its application with amendments.