Planning inquiry into plans for 300 homes in Bell Lane, Kesgrave, delayed by report

The land on Bell Lane, Kesgrave, which is the subject of negotiations to create 300 homes. Picture:

The land on Bell Lane, Kesgrave, which is the subject of negotiations to create 300 homes. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A planning inquiry into proposals to build 300 homes in Kesgrave has stalled after it was ruled that a key report on housing needs in Suffolk was needed for a fair decision to be made.

Suffolk Coastal District Council’s planning committee rejected plans for Persimmon to build 300 homes on land off Bell Lane in February last year, prompting the developer to appeal the decision.

The plans were called in for review, with a four-day planning inquiry due to get underway today.

But within an hour of the inquiry starting at East Suffolk House in Melton, legal teams for both the developers and Suffolk Coastal called for an adjournment until a key independent report by Peter Brett Associates had been published.

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The report, commissioned by Suffolk Coastal, Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils alongside Ipswich Borough Council, details a strategic assessment of housing needs for the four authorities.

The report is due to be published by May 12.

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In light of the publication, inquiry chairman David Hogger, who has been appointed by the secretary of state to review the evidence and decision, said that the inquiry could not continue fairly until the report had been published.

“In order for my decision to be fair and reasonable I consider it has to be the most up to date evidence,” Mr Hogger told the inquiry.

“Housing policy is a very key decision in this application and therefore I think it will be wrong to continue today.

“The most appropriate way forward is to adjourn the enquiry in order that the most up to date information can be released for everyone to see and be tested when the enquiry continues.

“It is with regret I have to come to conclusion because obviously a lot of time and effort has gone into organising this inquiry, but I have to be sure my decision is fair and reasonable and I can only do that if the information is the most up to date at the time of my decision.”

A final date on when the inquiry will re-open has not yet been confirmed, but is likely to take place at the end of June or beginning of July. Witnesses will be heard when the inquiry resumes, with members of the public also able to submit an intention to speak.

A site visit may also be carried out.