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Needham Market house plan blocked unanimously

Plans for 279 new homes have been blocked.

Mid Suffolk District Council today threw out the outline homes plan for land to the north west side of Barking Road, Needham Market, unanimously, citing concerns over location, accessibility and impact on landscape.

Reasons for refusal also 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.

Needham Market location plan. Image: Parker Planning Services/Mid Suffolk District Council
Needham Market location plan. Image: Parker Planning Services/Mid Suffolk District Council

Councillors also felt 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 ambition to address climate change.

'Potential harm to rural landscape' from proposals also influenced the committee’s decision, as well as the site’s' prominent and elevated' position and its role in providing a 'landscape buffer' between Needham Market and the neighbouring village of Barking.

In addition, concerns were raised about the loss of 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.

Cllr Matthew Hicks, chair of Mid Suffolk District Council’s development control committee, 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.

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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