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Plans for 86 homes in Suffolk village are deferred

A decision has been deferred until a later date on plans for 86 homes in Elmswell amid concerns over traffic impacts and planned highways measures.

Christchurch Land and Estates originally lodged plans for 105 homes on land between School Road and the railway line, but the number of homes was reduced after two years of work with Mid Suffolk District Council planners.

The proposals, which would sit outside the village boundary but on land destined for development in the local plan currently being drawn up, also included provision for a new pre-school, and measures to widen School Road which would also include a cycle lane.

Elmswell homes plan (43095177)
Elmswell homes plan (43095177)

However, the council’s development control committee unanimously agreed to postpone a decision because it did not have enough information on what highways mitigation measures would look like.

The development included a financial contribution to potential traffic lights at the School Road/Church Road junction in the future if the combined housing growth in the area necessitated it, but no concrete plans for how that would work.

There were also question marks over traffic capacity figures.

Elmswell homes plan (43095173)
Elmswell homes plan (43095173)

Committee chairman Matthew Hicks said: “Quite a few members [of the committee] have said it is not clear and they are not convinced the explanation around the junction is adequate.

“We are being asked to agree something but what wasn’t clear was what would bring forward traffic signals, what funding is required for those traffic signals and what happens if they don’t go ahead.”

However, councillors did praise the developers for having worked to refine the development, and welcomed the cycle lane provision, as well as the mix of housing which included 30 affordable homes and eight bungalows.

Elmswell homes plan (43095175)
Elmswell homes plan (43095175)

Councillors have also called on a solution to be found to retaining a prominent oak tree close to the edge of the road in School Road, which developers have agreed to work on.

Agent on behalf of Christchurch, James Bailey said the company had been willing to work on bringing a “more suitable and ultimately more sustainable development” having worked with the council planning team since submission of the scheme in May 2018.

He added: “This site has been progressed over several years with officers and members through a genuine and positive working relationship.

“It’s a unique opportunity to deliver some key infrastructure for Elmswell by providing a mix of housing types, including bungalows, the provision of land for a pre-school, highways improvements and an important part of the walking and cycle route between Elmswell and Woolpit.”

However, locals did raise some concerns.

Peter Dow, Elmswell Parish Council clerk, said: “Elmswell has long awaited acceptance that the tipping point in its growth is reached, and, barring exceptional measures to remediate development pressures, enough is enough.”

Ward councillor Sarah Mansel said it was “one too many for Elmswell” while fellow ward councillor Helen Geake said “this is one of the nicest bits of Elmswell, it’s part of the best view we have got over wonderful rolling open countryside.”

Long-running plans for 65 homes on the old bacon factory close to the site were agreed last month.

A date for when the plans may return to committee is not yet known.

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