Go ahead given for 210 new homes in Thurston to also include new primary school

Plans to build 210 homes in Thurston have been given the go ahead by Mid Suffolk District councillors today, Wednesday, September 16.

Gladman Developments Ltd had originally sought permission for 210 properties to be built on the land to the east of Ixworth Road, but committee members were not satisfied that the scheme addressed concerns raised about highways, infrastructure, landscape, and other issues when they first considered the application in January 2020.

Councillors instructed officers to investigate and report back on these issues.

Since January, planning officers have worked closely with the applicant, Suffolk County Council’s highways team, and other stakeholders to seek further clarity on queries raised – and to develop the package of public benefits associated with the application. The amended plans came back to today’s Planning Referrals Committee meeting, held virtually to ensure public safety during the current coronavirus outbreak.

Following input from planning officers, the applicant, councillors and subsequent debate – the committee voted by 10 to four in favour of approving the recommendation that outline planning permission be granted, subject to a Section 106 and a raft of planning conditions.

Proposals now include 74 affordable homes, 52 of which will be affordable rental properties, allowing residents to benefit from lower rents than the local market rate. The remaining 22 homes will provide opportunity for shared ownership, helping those struggling to get on the housing ladder to buy their own home. Both the affordable and marketable houses will range in size – accommodating first time buyers, families and local residents wishing to downsize.

The development will also partially fund a new 420-place primary school for the village, together with a 30-place pre-school centre, with Section 106 conditions requiring a contribution of over £1.4 million on completion of the new homes.

Another obligation set out by the council, will see the applicant finance highways improvements. These include the funding of MOVA technology for the planned signals at the Bunbury Arms, allowing for real time traffic activity to be monitored and the lighting sequence to be controlled accordingly – optimising vehicle flow and reducing queue lengths

A number of measures have also been agreed to improve sustainable transport options in the village, including the creation of cycle and pedestrian links between Ixworth Road and Norton.

Funding will also be allocated for four new pedestrian crossings, including the first tiger crossings proposed in the county – which combine a pedestrian zebra crossing with a separate crossing for cyclists.

To further meet the council’s climate change ambitions, the applicant will install a public electric vehicle charging point in the village, contribute £30,000 towards a feasibility study at Thurston Railway Station, and deliver at least two car club vehicles for shared use by residents.

Ecological mitigation measures incorporate a 20-metre wide landscape buffer, comprising of native hedgerow species, along the entire Ixworth Road frontage of the site – complementing the request by councillors in January to expand the hedgerow. This will re-establish a green wildlife corridor, linking the existing urban edge of Thurston with the countryside, expanding the natural network and enabling new and existing flora to be connected.

Plans also include the provision of urban gym facilities within the development, as well as £200,000 in funding for play equipment, and a large area of public open space earmarked for potential use as a new skate park – supporting the council’s commitment to building bright and healthy futures for its residents.

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