The first detailed plans of part of the Chiton Woods development – which, when complete, is set to provide 1,150 homes, new jobs and secure a raft of community benefits – received the green light today.
Chilton Woods comprises of 289 acres of land, to the north of Woodhall Business Park, spanning the parishes of Acton, Chilton, Long Melford and Sudbury, with plans for the site ultimately including 288 affordable homes for lower income house-hunters and a new school.
Since outline planning permission was granted for the site in 2018, planning officers have worked closely with applicant Taylor Wimpey and other stakeholders on the package of infrastructure to accompany these proposals, with more detailed plans coming back to today’s planning committee meeting.
After input from planning officers, objectors, the applicant, councillors – and subsequent debate – the committee voted by eight to two, with one abstention, in favour of approving the officer recommendation that reserved matters, outlining details of the scheme, be granted, subject to conditions.
Members also agreed that the required Construction Environmental Management Plan (a pre-requisite of development starting) should be referred to Planning Committee for consideration. This in addition to a Design Code for the wider development – giving more detailed design guidance – which will be decided on at a later date, following extensive public consultation and engagement..
A new distributor road will also be created by the developer to adjoin these points to the site and form a link between residential and employment land, supported by Suffolk Highways together with further highways improvements to be funded by the applicant, including plans for a new roundabout and key junction improvements on the A134 to mitigate the development’s impact on local traffic. Three toucan crossings will also be installed to help ensure pedestrian safety.
Significant upgrades will be made to footpath and cycle links from the development to the town centre, nearby schools and other amenities. Funding will also be allocated for a travel plan – promoting greener modes of transport – and the developer will contribute £850,000 to facilitate a regular public bus service serving residents and the wider community.
Over time, the development will also offer shops, cafes and restaurants, a community hall, and shared workspace on site – further eliminating the need for residents to use a car.
Another obligation imposed by the council as part of the overall development, is the provision of 288 “affordable homes”. Opportunities for shared ownership will also be offered, helping low-income families struggling to get on the housing ladder to buy their own home.
Half of the site will be designated public open space, including a community woodland, allotments and children’s play areas. A sports pavilion, offering playing fields and changing facilities, is also incorporated in plans.
Additional demand for school places will be met by proposals for a new primary school, including pre-school facilities, on site.
Plans also include 37 acres of employment land earmarked for office space, research and industrial units, a hotel, a household waste recycling centre, and a district heating network energy centre. It is anticipated that this will generate approximately 1,900 new jobs in Babergh.
To further support the council’s blueprint for addressing climate change, Taylor Wimpey must ensure the homes are energy efficient, that they can support electric vehicle charging points, and that steps to encourage biodiversity are also taken.
Ecological mitigation measures include an Ecological Management Plan, a preliminary Ecological Appraisal, a Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening Report, as well as plans to survey the presence of breeding birds, bats, reptiles and badgers on site. The applicant has also agreed to a landscaping scheme, including extensive new tree planning throughout the development.
Peter Beer, Chairman of Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee, said:“An application of this size is never decided on lightly, with outline planning permission being discussed at great length by Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee before approval was granted. Whilst plans have been met with some opposition today, I agree with the conclusion Councillors reached previously, and the clear benefits of progressing this allocated site – helping to support our local economy, at a time when this is needed more than ever.
“Plans include a substantial amount of affordable housing – meeting both an identified local need and our council’s ambition for everyone in Babergh to have somewhere that they are proud to call home.
“The provision of new schools, a woodland, play areas, and a sports pavilion will secure the facilities needed to keep pace with growth – and also help fulfil our vision for thriving communities with bright and healthy futures.”
And John Ward, Leader of Babergh District Council, added: “Chilton Woods is a hugely significant development, bringing much-needed housing as well as future employment opportunities, facilities and infrastructure for Sudbury.
“I am delighted that the committee was minded to approve reserved matters today – ensuring the creation of this new community to deliver the promised benefits to the local area.”