Housing development labelled 'absolute disgrace' during Lords debate
PUBLISHED: 13:29 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:39 25 July 2019
A Suffolk peer described a controversial housing estate as an "absolute disgrace" during scathing criticisms of planners and developers.
Lord Marlesford made the comments about Persimmon Homes' development at Mount Pleasant in Framlingham during a recent debate about authorities' role protecting the environment.
The 95-home scheme has faced regular criticisms including complaints about breaches and ignoring community concerns.
Lord Marlesford said: "Big developers can outgun the planners and planners are not always of very good quality."
He said there were two major developments in "the beautiful medieval town of Framlingham" - Hopkins Homes', which he praised and Persimmon's, which he labelled an "absolute disgrace".
"It should never have been allowed and the developer has got away with everything," he added.
Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) - now part of East Suffolk Council (ESC) - has come under fire for its handling of alleged enforcement breaches, which included claims every property was built in the wrong place.
Although the council once said Persimmon may have to tear down homes as the "ultimate sanction", officers later softened their stance.
In February, officers said they believed all but a few buildings were in the correct position.
Committee members narrowly voted in favour of the application but many criticised the council's track record on the scheme.
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Christopher Hudson, who was Framlingham's ward member at the time, said it brought the council into "disrepute". Stephen Burroughes said it had been an "absolute embarrassment."
Lord Marlesford, speaking after the debate, said Suffolk was "under threat" from big housing development and some planning decisions were "unsatisfactory - with Framlingham a prominent example".
Mr Hudson, who is no longer a district councillor, said there was much to learn from these "shortcomings".
However, William Taylor, who lives in the development and was elected to ESC in May, disagreed. While he acknowledged some people in the town may empathise with Lord Marlesford's view, he said the development had been "wholeheartedly approved" and Persimmon had worked with the council and residents to resolve issues. "The residents will now just want to get on with enjoying their new homes," he said.
Comments branded 'unfortunate'
Lord Marlesford's comments have been rejected as "inaccurate and unhelpful"
A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said the comments were "unfortunate".
"We are content that our first-class planning team, working within national regulations and guidelines, acquitted themselves well in the face of a number of issues created by the developer in Framlingham," he added.
"East Suffolk's planning department has been nationally recognised for the high quality of its work and generalisations such as this are inaccurate and unhelpful."
A Persimmon Homes Suffolk spokesman said: "We have been working collaboratively with the council throughout the project and we are satisfied that the development has been built in accordance with the latest approved documents. These were approved both by the local development steering group and the Local planning authority."