New inquiry call for homes project

FAMILIES protesting over a £15 million-plus seafront redevelopment project today called for a public inquiry to be held into the scheme.They want the final decision taken away from their councillors and have employed a solicitor, who has made a formal application to the regional government office for a "call in" of the plans.

FAMILIES protesting over a £15 million-plus seafront redevelopment project today called for a public inquiry to be held into the scheme.

They want the final decision taken away from their councillors and have employed a solicitor, who has made a formal application to the regional government office for a "call in" of the plans.

Campaigners do not believe Suffolk Coastal can make a fair decision on the 17-acre scheme when it is the landowner, is promoting the venture in partnership with a housing developer, and is set to make millions from a profit-sharing deal.

Solicitor Michael Jones said a public inquiry before an independent planning inspector was the only way to decide the scheme for 209 homes and some leisure attractions on Felixstowe's south seafront.

He said the scheme was against planning policy, would have a big impact on the environment, features too many houses and not enough of those suggested are for social housing, and will be built on a flood plain.

"The proposed development by its very size and sensitive location will have a significant adverse impact upon the seafront and upon the amenities of the surrounding area," said Mr Jones.

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"Clearly, the regeneration of Felixstowe depends upon substantial and appropriate leisure services being implemented within the application site area.

"It is clear that the intention under the terms of the Local Plan is that the south seafront area should be the main focus of recreational provision for Felixstowe and that this should incorporate a number of uses including a market area.

"The current proposals do not address all of these issues. Sadly, the proposed development scheme appears to use a residential redevelopment proposal as its main anchor."

He said there was great concern that the council was wearing "two hats" – as a landowner trying to get the best deal for its site and also deciding the plans.

"It is clear that the council cannot make a decision that will be acceptable to local people. It therefore follows that the planning application should in fairness be called-in for determination by an impartial observer," said Mr Jones.

Campaigners Edwina and Bob Rust said a public inquiry would allow all points of views to be heard.

"At an inquiry an inspector would give everyone a fair hearing and residents would not feel that their views were just being ignored by a council with its own agenda," said Mrs Rust.

"We do not see how the council can separate itself and not be influenced by the fact that it will make so much money out of this scheme and wants it done."

Councillors are still preparing to decide the application and this week visited the site. They are due to meet on May 27 to make a final decision.

Planning officers are currently drawing up their report on the scheme, which has so far received nearly 200 objections.

n What do you think should be done with the land? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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