Village scheme gets approval

A GROUND-breaking scheme to use the sale of farmland to pay for urgent flood defences in Suffolk has finally been approved.The sale of land for the building of 26 homes in the villages of Bawdsey, Alderton and Hollesley, will raise £2.

A GROUND-breaking scheme to use the sale of farmland to pay for urgent flood defences in Suffolk has finally been approved.

The sale of land for the building of 26 homes in the villages of Bawdsey, Alderton and Hollesley, will raise £2.44million.

This money will be used to pay for the defence works at East Lane, Bawdsey, which are currently estimated to cost £2.3m.

Suffolk Coastal District Council had stated in July that it was committed towards the principle of land sales as a last resort to pay for the defence scheme after the Government said it would not pay.

But councillors said at the time they were not happy with the preferred location in Hollesley at Bushey Lane and the East Lane Trust, which is raising money for the coastal defence, had to seek an alternative location.

The trust could not find a suitable alternative and councillors unanimously approved all three sites in the three villages.

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Their decision means that the trust can now sell the farmland in the villages to developers. The proceeds will pay for the works at East Lane next year.

However, their decision is almost unprecedented nationally. It also goes against the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan - and it is contrary to the countryside and housing policies of the Development Plan.

The decision is also controversial because Alderton and Hollesley parish councils objected, and there was stinging criticism by the Suffolk Preservation Society.

The society said, in relation to the Bushey Lane site, that the planning rule book “might as well be torn up” if four houses were allowed to be built in open countryside.

The trust made a concession by reducing the number of houses there from six to four and Gerry Matthews, the trust's agent, said improvements had been made to the lay-out and size of proposed properties.

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