Hopes to build 279 new homes are dashed as plans for 190 dwellings in Whitton are approved

Developers hoping to build 279 new homes in Needham Market have had their plans rejected by councillors.

Mid Suffolk District Council refused outline planning permission for the homes to be built citing concerns over the development’s location, accessibility and impact on landscape.

Plans for land to the north west side of Barking Road were considered at today’s (Wednesday, February 17) planning committee meeting, held virtually.

Following input from the planning officer, applicant and councillors – and subsequent debate – the committee voted unanimously in favour of refusing outline planning permission for the scheme.

Reasons cited included a risk of development that was not well integrated or compatible with Needham Market because of the site’s location in countryside outside of the town’s settlement boundary.

Inadequate footpath and cycleway connectivity from the development to Needham Market would also limit sustainable transport options for residents, which is at odds with the council’s ongoing ambition to address climate change.

Potential harm to rural landscape from proposals also influenced the committee’s decision, given the site’s prominent and elevated position and its role in providing a landscape buffer between Needham Market and neighbouring village Barking. In addition, concerns were raised about the loss of good agricultural land, without adequate justification, if the site were to be developed.

The location of the development’s entrance within a flood zone was another significant reason for refusal, after planning officers voiced fears about access to the site in the event of flooding. This view was supported by Suffolk County Council and the Environment Agency, who objected to the scheme on this basis.

Proposals had also been met with opposition from local residents and both Needham Market Town Council and Barking Parish Council.

Matthew Hicks, chair of Mid Suffolk District Council’s Development Control Committee A, said: “We want to ensure that the right properties are built in the right places in Mid Suffolk and after much consideration our committee reached a decision that this development would not fulfil this aim – reflecting the view of many local residents.

“Whilst I commend the developer for offering a substantial amount of affordable housing, the benefits of proposals don’t outweigh the considerable harm of this application to the rural landscape and agricultural land, or justify development on countryside outside of Needham Market’s settlement boundary.

“Our committee also had great concerns about the site’s sole access point being located within a flood zone and the danger this could pose in the event of flooding.”

Also during the meeting, the committee voted by six to one to approve reserved matters (subject to conditions), outlining final details of a development of 190 new homes in Old Norwich Road, Whitton.

Plans for the site significantly evolved following discussions between Whitton Parish Council, ward members and developer Bellway Homes to achieve an amicable outcome for the local community, after councillors voted to defer the application last month. Revisions including the removal of triple parking on all plots but one, changes to layout to reduce the impact of the development on neighbouring residents, and improvements to cycleways were subsequently made to address issues previously raised by the committee.

When approving the reserved matters, committee members requested that the council, applicant and Suffolk County Council work collaboratively to explore the significant surface water drainage issues raised by the community, with a view to potentially resolving the situation. The introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to improve monitoring of misuse of the nearby bus gate by drivers will also be investigated.

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