Trimley: Campaigners call for homes inquiry to be shelved

CAMPAIGNERS are today asking Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey to back their battle to stop the Felixstowe area being swamped with new homes.

A public inquiry is due to start soon into the blueprint for the future development of the Suffolk Coastal district, but protesters claim it will be a waste of money and should be cancelled because the plans are “unsound”.

The Trimley villages and Felixstowe have been earmarked for nearly 1,800 new homes in the next 15 years with council officials saying without the properties many people will be forced to live elsewhere and commute, youngsters will move away, and the population will decline.

Protesters though believe too many homes have been put forward – and the allocation should be spread more fairly across the district.

Save Trimley Against Growth (STAG), both Trimley St Martin and Trimley St Mary parish councils, and Save Felixstowe Countryside are all calling for changes to the Local Development Framework (LDF).

Barbara Shout, of STAG, said new information which had come to light made campaigners feel there would be a “severe impact” on the soundness of the LDF.

They felt the number of homes built in the Felixstowe area had been “understated” to persuade councillors to back building on greenfield sites.

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Mrs Shout said figures published by Suffolk Coastal showed only 28 new homes a year had been constructed in the area in the past decade – a total of 280.

But looking back over a longer period – 40 years – the statistics changed dramatically, showing on average 137 homes each year, which, for the size of the area, meant Felixstowe and the Trimleys compared favourably with the rest of the district, which saw 600 homes built each year.

“We believe the figures have been cherry-picked to suit a predetermined policy and the position made to look worse for Felixstowe and the Trimley villages to justify large-scale house building,” she said.

Ian Cowan, of STAG, said the group knew Dr Coffey did not normally get involved in planning matters, but had asked if she might intervene as the LDF would have an impact on the residents, businesses and environment for generations to come.

He said campaigners felt the examination in public could see the document rejected and so the inquiry would be a waste of money.

“Using Freedom of Information legislation, we have calculated that at least �3m of taxpayers’ money has already been spent over the years on the LDF process, and as our MP I am sure you would agree that in these recessionary times money should not be wasted on lost causes,” he said in a letter to Dr Coffey.