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Felsham residents share safety concerns over new proposal to build homes on part of Six Bells pub garden




Felsham residents unhappy about proposals to develop part of the village pub’s garden for homes fear their concerns are going unheard.

A new application for two homes, parking and landscaping on land behind the Six Bells has been submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council.

It is the third set of proposals for the site, with two previous applications for three dwellings being turned down in the past 12 months.

Nick Panayi
Nick Panayi

The latest plans would see the new homes use the pub’s existing access on to Church Road, but residents have reiterated the safety concerns they raised in January in response to an earlier scheme.

Then, 190 people signed a petition against the access being used. Now, 42 public comments have been made on the latest scheme, with the majority lodging objections.

But some feel their concerns – including fears over the development’s access – are not being listened to, especially after Suffolk Highways raised no objection.

Felsham resident Nicholas Panayi said: “Why are Mid Suffolk District Council planners ignoring the vast number of residents’ objections in this planning process instead of communicating with us to discuss the concerns? Why have a consultation process if the issues and concerns raised are not being addressed?”

He called for Suffolk Highways to meet residents, councillors and Jo Churchill MP on site to discuss how visibility requirements could be met.

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However, a spokesperson for Mid Suffolk District Council said it encouraged people to comment on planning applications, adding that applications were also subject to review by statutory consultees – such as Suffolk Highways – to allow for impartial guidance.

“All feedback is taken into account by planning officers and, where applications go before planning committee, by councillors, when reaching their decision.

“Ultimately, we must ensure any development is in the best interest of our communities while also allowing enough affordable and high-quality homes for our residents.

“In this particular case planning officers have made several site visits and attended a virtual meeting with residents previously, however we have not been invited to any in-person meeting,” said the spokesperson.

Mark Bloomfield, Felsham parish clerk, said the parish council feared the proposal would represent a loss of public amenity land, put at risk the ‘heritage nature’ of that area of the village and raised concerns over the proposed access.

Stefan Zietara, of Felsham, said: “I simply can’t understand why this continues to be pursued when the fundamental matter of inappropriate access remains.

“Any potential build and future occupancy, irrespective of plot numbers, will immediately place all village road users at high risk.

“This is a very dangerous and wholly unsuitable proposal. Someone must take decisive action to stop this from happening.”

Resident Evan Nunn described the access as ‘an accident waiting to happen’, while Francesca Webber said: “The access to the proposed site is not suitable and extremely dangerous for all that use the busy road. I don’t understand why Suffolk Highways think this area is safe to change.”

Villager Philip Cockell said: “The access to the pub car park (which is the proposed access for the two new dwellings) is not suitable. Leaving the car park is risky at the best of times. Restricting the parking space that is available off-road – which the development will inevitably do – only stands to compound this issue and poses a significant danger to motorists and pedestrians alike.”

Daphnie Sparkes, of Felsham, said: “I agree with all the other residents, that the pub access is too dangerous to be used for the new houses.

“Everyone I speak to tells me how close they have come to having an accident along this bit of road. Why do highways ignore the residents’ concerns on this dangerous access?”

Harvey Walker, of Gedding, also described the access as dangerous due to its position on a bend, lack of ‘good vision of oncoming traffic’ and cars regularly parked along the opposite side of the road.

He added: “Please consider mine and our fellow neighbours’ objections before our conservation village is blighted forever with this housing development.”

David Sparkes, of nearby Felsham Garage, said: “This is the umpteenth time I’m having to object to a planning application in the gardens of the Six Bells and it’s getting very frustrating. All the previous applications have been refused, for very good reasons, but the developers keep trying with new applications.”

Anthony Simmonds, supporting the plans, said: “With regard to the previous application, I find it difficult to understand why professional, qualified planning officials, highways engineers and various other organisations, who we pay for with our various taxes, are overruled by a so-called planning committee, most of whom consist of non-professional untrained people, who do not even live in the village, or in some cases not even close.”

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