Great Blakenham: Council homes proposals are being “railroaded” through claims senior councillor. Mid Suffolk District Council says village needs new social housing.

Great Blakenham

Great Blakenham - Credit: Mike Page

Proposals to build the first new council homes in decades are being “railroaded” through despite major community concerns, according to a senior councillor.

The energy-from-waste plant in Great Blakenham

The energy-from-waste plant in Great Blakenham

Dozens of residents crammed into Great Blakenham’s Parish Room for a public meeting last month where they heard that 23 out of the 38 new council homes in Mid Suffolk were expected to be built in their village.

Now Mid Suffolk councillors have agreed to the proposals going ahead – with the next stage to develop a planning application.

John Field, county and district councillor for Great Blakenham, said although he had supported the development in the village he still had concerns.

He said: “Concerns are not being addressed – concerns about infrastructure, shops which were promised, medical facilities which were promised, sustainable transport that was promised and none delivered. My view is that we are not giving ourselves sufficient time to address these.”

He said residents of the village, which has had major development in recent years including the energy-from-waste incinerator, had “major” fears. He questioned why the proposal was being “rushed” when the land was first put forward for development around two years ago.

Julie Abbey-Taylor, Mid Suffolk’s corporate manager for strategic housing, said the council needed to show it “can deliver” – with officers facing tight timescales to develop the homes in partnership with Havebury Housing.

She said: “The starting point is not the grant (government money provided for the homes), it’s always been the housing need. Certainly for Great Blakenham the priority should be given to people with a strong connection to the village, then coming out to the neighbouring parishes.”

Lindsay Barker, a Mid Suffolk strategic director, said the council had to take into account the entire community’s view and not just listen to a “few vocal members” before further consultations take place.

Mrs Abbey-Taylor added: “(I am) reasonably confident that some of the fears and comments will go away when they see the quality of the designs.”

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The Great Blakenham Residents Group, which is against proposal, has started a petition.

A group spokeswoman said a Mid Suffolk drop-in consultation event would take place on October 24, between 3.30pm to 7pm in the Parish Room.

Mr Field had a motion to delay the Blakenham development until “infrastructure issues” were addressed, voted down.