Ipswich and Babergh councils clash over Wolsey Grange

Wolsey Grange

The proposed second phase of Wolsey Grange is the area to the right of this aerial map. - Credit: Google

A row has blown up between Ipswich and Babergh councils over the lack of community facilities planned for the Wolsey Grange development on the edge of town.

Ipswich borough is objecting to the plans because there are no shops or other community facilities planned - Babergh has said it expects the residents to use those in the town.

But Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere accused Babergh of just allowing the homes and expecting residents to use facilities paid for, or subsidised by, Ipswich council taxpayers.

He said: "There's no real planning here, the houses are just being plonked on our doorstep. Before we allowed work on the Ipswich garden suburb (on the other side of the town) we had a masterplan drawn up with new shops, businesses and schools - you need that for a development of 750 homes."

A statement issued by Clive Arthey, deputy leader and cabinet member for planning at Babergh, said: "Our planning officers have already had a positive meeting with their counterparts at IBC to discuss the application’s infrastructure requirements, such as sustainable transport links, and how best to meet these needs.


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"Whilst this particular development is on the outskirts of Ipswich, we remain committed to meeting the housing demands of all our towns and villages – ranging from smaller developments to the creation of a new community, school and facilities to support 1,150 new homes at Chilton Woods in Sudbury."

Mr Arthey also said Babergh would be looking at community needs before deciding on the future of a proposed 519-home development at Capel Grove in Capel St Mary.

His statement said: "Capel Grove is one of the sites allocated for development in the emerging plan, and our planning officers continue to engage with Capel St Mary Parish Council and the community to ensure their views can help inform the planning decision process.

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"Over 500 consultation letters have been issued by us to local residents and consultees and we encourage comment on the application, which will be considered carefully, balancing all aspects, before officers and our planning committee reaches a final decision.

"As a rural district, there will understandably be demand for development, like this, within reach of our county town and its retail facilities, where residents can benefit from main transport links and increased employment opportunities, whilst also enjoying the rich culture and beautiful countryside that Babergh has to offer."

The full text of the statement issued by Babergh on behalf of Mr Arthey:

We want Babergh to continue to be a place that people are proud to call home and have created our Joint Local Plan as a blueprint to help meet government housing targets and provide enough affordable and high-quality homes for our residents for years to come.

The plan, and it’s supporting infrastructure delivery plan, also details important infrastructure such as schools, highways improvements, GP surgeries, and other community facilities– ensuring that we meet the needs of our growing and changing population.

Capel Grove is one of the sites allocated for development in the emerging plan, and our planning officers continue to engage with Capel St Mary Parish Council and the community to ensure their views can help inform the planning decision process.

Over 500 consultation letters have been issued by us to local residents and consultees and we encourage comment on the application, which will be considered carefully, balancing all aspects, before officers and our planning committee reaches a final decision.

As a rural district, there will understandably be demand for development, like this, within reach of our county town and its retail facilities, where residents can benefit from main transport links and increased employment opportunities, whilst also enjoying the rich culture and beautiful countryside that Babergh has to offer.

We see this as being largely positive for Ipswich, with future residents of fringe developments likely to use shops and leisure facilities within the town – providing revenue for Ipswich Borough Council (IBC), as well as boosting the local economy and playing their part in the vibrancy of the town centre, at a time when this is needed more than ever. Likewise, we welcome the use of facilities in Babergh by Ipswich residents, with some choosing to shop at Copdock, send their children to Suffolk One or use our district’s leisure and recreation facilities.

However, in recognition of the potential demand that this will place on Ipswich’s infrastructure, we have recently changed our Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) framework to enable cross-boundary applications from organisations within neighbouring districts, including Ipswich. As with any request for CIL funding, these applications must be justified and evidenced.

Our council also welcomes bids from providers such as the Clinical Commissioning Group and Suffolk County Council for CIL contributions towards infrastructure in Ipswich, enabling the town’s residents to benefit from shared facilities.

In the case of Wolsey Grange, our planning officers have already had a positive meeting with their counterparts at IBC to discuss the application’s infrastructure requirements, such as sustainable transport links, and how best to meet these needs. Any concerns or comments, including those recently raised at IBC’s planning committee, will be taken into account when the application is considered by our planning committee – ensuring democratic transparency and accountability.

Whilst this particular development is on the outskirts of Ipswich, we remain committed to meeting the housing demands of all our towns and villages – ranging from smaller developments to the creation of a new community, school and facilities to support 1,150 new homes at Chilton Woods in Sudbury.

In addition, our council has recently invested significantly in brownfield sites to transform into social housing, including the conversion of the former Angel Court care home and our former offices in Corks Lane in Hadleigh into 78 houses specifically for social housing in the town. 

We also encourage parishes in our district to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan – providing the opportunity to develop a shared vision for their area. At present, there are five parishes with adopted Neighbourhood Plans in Babergh, with another 28 currently in progress.

Ultimately, our council is not just building homes, but communities with bright and healthy futures.


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