Fifteen villages unite against depot

RESIDENTS of 15 villages are today campaigning to stop a former airfield being turned into a container storage depot, sending hundreds more lorries on to the area's narrow roads.

RESIDENTS of 15 villages are today campaigning to stop a former airfield being turned into a container storage depot, sending hundreds more lorries on to the area's narrow roads.

The Campaign to Save Our Rural Roads (SORR) is at loggerheads with Suffolk Coastal District Council over whether the old Debach airfield can be used for the four-acre venture.

SORR represents people living in Clopton, Coddenham, Bredfield, Charsfield, Grundisburgh, Culpho, Hasketon, Hemingstone, Little Bealings, Otley, Witnesham, Swilland, Wickham Market, Burgh and Debach.

It has been campaigning against increased HGV traffic in the area and is upset at the axing of a planning inquiry into the issue and has accused the council of “turning a blind eye” to the increasing activities at the airfield for more than 20 years.


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SORR chairman Keith Gipp said the council's head of planning Philip Ridley told a public meeting the authority had no power to stop the storage of containers because the site had blanket consent for warehousing and distribution.

However, after the group obtained legal advice, the council admitted it was wrong - as permission given in 1981 only permitted two buildings to be used for storage of agricultural produce.

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“This is only the latest development in an extraordinary saga involving residents' complaints about the level of HGV traffic generated by operations at the site,” said Mr Gipp.

The public inquiry was to have been held in July but was withdrawn after the council reached a compromise with the site owners with the aim to resolve all the issues and benefit the public.

SORR though is still not happy and wants the compromise plans now before the council to be refused because it says allowing a container storage business would cause horrendous HGV traffic on rural roads ill-suited to heavy lorry traffic.

A council spokesman said: “The planning issues regarding the Debach site are extremely complex, with nearly 30 years worth of planning history that has to be taken into account.

“Our head of planning services attended a lively public meeting in August when, in response to one of the many questions from the audience, he gave an answer that was correct to the best of his knowledge at that time and without access to all the relevant background material.

“After that meeting we sought our own expert legal advice on the issue which we received before SORR shared their legal opinions.

“It is on the basis of our legal advice that we have been reviewing our position. We had also been legally advised that it was better to negotiate with Debach Enterprises rather than proceed with the public inquiry on the outstanding enforcement issues.”

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