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Woolpit homes High Court challenge is rejected

An action group say their attempt to fight a decision over 300 homes in the High Court was the right move - despite the appeal being rejected.

Woolpit Action Group applied for the High Court review, which they also funded, after Mid Suffolk District Council gave the go-ahead for 300 homes last August.

Hopkins Homes are due to start work on the development between the A14 and The Street in Woolpit later this year.

Homes masterplan. Image: Hopkins Homes
Homes masterplan. Image: Hopkins Homes

Planning permission was granted despite dozens of objections amid fears a large development would damage the character of the village.

Woolpit Action Group applied to the court after 92 households funded the bid - but the appeal was thrown out at a hearing on February 11.

David Hughes, chair of the group, said members however were pleased they had made their voices heard.

“Given that, even if we won, most likely another developer would be along, we asked if it was worth trying for a review,” he said.

“And, having lost our case, we asked again, had it been worth it. Both times, we feel the answer is ‘yes’.

“We, and other villages do not feel our voices are being heard by the district council who will just say their hands are tied by the Government housing targets.

"The judge felt Mid Suffolk District was entitled to rely on the draft local plan, and to ignore Woolpit's neighbourhood plan.

“Planning decisions are now policy driven with the local plan, against which they are weighed, the mischief and root of all our woes.

"It has not even been adopted.

“It was good to air our views.

The whole basis of the housing plan is that the population of mid Suffolk will increase by 10 per cent over the next 15 years, and this is just ludicrous, given the demographic shows only 27 per cent, aged between 20 and 44.

Planning permission for the 300 homes was granted following the agreement of Section 106 developer contributions of more than £1 million and will incorporate 60 affordable homes.

The site is listed in Mid Suffolk’s emerging local plan, although the Woolpit Parish Council rejected it as land for homes in the neighbourhood plan, which is also still in development.

A spokesperson for Mid Suffolk District Council, said: "Our council remains committed to working with our towns and parishes to find the best solution for delivering growth in Mid Suffolk – and is also appreciative of the efforts of Woolpit residents in developing their neighbourhood plan.

“However, this plan is yet to be adopted after the independent examiner requested that a number of significant modifications be made before the plan can go to a local referendum. These modifications relate to the plan’s shortfall in meeting the planned housing requirement, as identified by the examiner.

“Subject to the implementation of all modifications set out in the examiner’s report, Woolpit residents will be given the opportunity to vote on whether to adopt the neighbourhood plan.

“If successfully adopted, the plan will then carry increased weight in the planning decision process.”

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