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Countryside site will provide homes needed to match Felixstowe's jobs growth

PUBLISHED: 14:17 09 April 2015 | UPDATED: 14:17 09 April 2015

Christchurch Land and Estates' proposed development of 560 homes, community centre, extra care/assisted living facility, play areas, village green, shops and employment centre off Gulpher Road,. Felixstowe.

Christchurch Land and Estates' proposed development of 560 homes, community centre, extra care/assisted living facility, play areas, village green, shops and employment centre off Gulpher Road,. Felixstowe.

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Developers wanting to build a huge new estate on the edge of Felixstowe say their project is the "best option" for the town's future housing needs and will boost its economy.

Christchurch Land and Estates has submitted plans to develop 77 acres of the resort’s precious countryside with 560 new homes.

The scheme would also feature a community centre, small convenience store, 10 acres of open space and play areas, 60-bed care home, 50 assisted living units, business premises, and 25 acres of wildlife corridors off Gulpher Road.

Tony Harris, director of Christchurch, said the housing supply in Felixstowe was not matching the growth of jobs.

He said: “Our plans seek to tackle this imbalance head-on and ensure that barriers to the economic and social prosperity of Felixstowe are reduced.

“There is no question that failing to supply high quality housing is a major brake on future economic growth and directly affects the living standards of local people. Failure to meet housing needs in Felixstowe forces prices up and encourages long-distance commuting.

“Our plans have a 30% element for rent or shared ownership, which means that we could provide up to 168 much-needed new properties that local people can afford. The provision of a nursing home also seeks to meet the needs of the local elderly population.”

Mr Harris said Suffolk Coastal had previously recognised the merits of the Gulpher Road area for housing.

He said: “It comes as some surprise that the council’s preferred approach appears to disperse development to meet housing needs in Felixstowe.

“That means directing development into detached villages like the Trimleys where existing facilities would struggle to cope with population growth.

“This is not the most sustainable approach and will not bring the economic boost of a single site located close to Felixstowe town centre. We firmly believe, as did the council previously, that our site is the best option.”

He claimed the district’s five-year land supply – required by Government – was much lower than the 4.3 years claimed by the council and, in fact, less than two years.

Suffolk Coastal has said the site has been analysed and is “not suitable” for development.

The council also says the land is not needed for housing as enough sites have been identified – either granted permission already or identified as suitable – to provide the 1,760 new homes needed in the Felixstowe area over the next decade.

The land’s current uses include a golf driving range and grazing for 40-plus horses, and stretches from Gulpher Road to The Grove woodland.

Suffolk Coastal’s Core Strategy – approved by a government inspector – says the Gulpher Road area “provides a significant and widely-used variety of resources for both formal and informal recreation, which will be preserved, particularly where views exist to and from the Deben Estuary and the Coast and Heaths AONB”.

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