Residents reassured about housing

WORRIED residents are today due to be assured there "was never any intention" of building 700 homes in their small Suffolk town.Planners from Mid Suffolk District Council are due to attend a public meeting at 7pm today to outline their plans for Needham Market over the next 20 years.

WORRIED residents are today due to be assured there "was never any intention" of building 700 homes in their small Suffolk town.

Planners from Mid Suffolk District Council are due to attend a public meeting at 7pm today to outline their plans for Needham Market over the next 20 years.

And they were set to reject any suggestion the town could be swelled by major housing developments in the near future.

It is understood the number of houses likely to be built in the area in the next two decades will total around 100.

A spokesman for the council said: "We haven't been looking to build 700 houses in Needham Market in any circumstances.

"A programme of events will be held over the next few months to discuss with the town council and others the opportunities that exist in and around the town.

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"There will be a full consultation process and it would not be right to prejudice that by saying where and exactly how many houses could be built."

The meeting, arranged by David Ruffley MP, was called after a number of developers approached the district council asking them to earmark land around the town for housing and employment.

This is part of the local plan process, which is due to be completed later this year.

If each bid proved successful, land that could provide space for 700 homes would be freed up in the town, which currently has a population of around 4,300.

But the council spokesman said only a very small percentage of these bids would be likely to be acceptable.

Mr Ruffley said he was concerned by the possibility of the developments and wanted to clarify the situation for residents.

"I want my Needham constituents not only to have the opportunity to express their views but also to receive factual briefing direct from Mid Suffolk planning officers", he said.

"My aim is always to ensure there is transparency in the planning process and that's why I'm calling this public meeting to which everyone is invited.

"I want local democratic accountability on this as on all local issues."

The meeting is being held at 7pm today at Needham Market Community Centre. Around 100 people are expected to attend.

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