Villagers say ‘NO’ after land revealed for possible housing in Wickhambrook
Worried residents are making their voices heard early in bid to stop potentially 100s of new homes being built in their village.
Already four banners have gone up around Wickhambrook declaring ‘Wickhambrook Says No - To Mass Development' and residents have launched a facebook page called ‘Wick Saysno’ and an Instagram page called @Wickhambrooksaysno to foster support.
The call to arms comes after villagers learned that five potential sites for new housing have been listed in an early West Suffolk Council local plan consultation which, if they all get the go-ahead, could mean more than 700 houses being built.
The suggested sites, which have been put forward by land owners and developers, include land east of Gaines Hall, which could accommodate 450 houses, and land north of Nunnery Green, with room for 164 homes.
Resident Diana Carroll, said: ‘We don’t need these houses.
“Wickhambrook residents are more or less unanimously against large-scale development.
“The school is full, the health centre is overcrowded, lanes around the village are already over-used and dangerous for children, pedestrians and elderly people.
‘What’s more, these proposals go against West Suffolk’s own policy for sensitive building in villages and put valuable Grade Two agricultural land under concrete and tarmac – land that should be used to feed future generations.
Wildlife habitats and corridors on field margins and in hedges and trees would be destroyed. We do not want these sites to go into the local plan.
“We want to preserve the wonderful pattern of hamlets, village greens and productive fields around Wickhambrook – and protect quality of life for villagers.”
The potential housing sites have been put forward by landowners and developers in response to West Suffolk Council’s call for available land for houses, which it has to do each year under national planning laws, to meet housing targets.
The land could then be adopted in the local plan, which is formed over several years and helps determine how communities are shaped over the coming decades.
Resident Richard Byers, said: "We are most certainly against mass development on green field sites but we acknowledge that small scaled development within the settlement boundary of the village, especially affordable homes, maybe needed in future."
Councillor David Roach, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for the Local Plan, said: "“Each year, national guidance requires local authorities to prepare the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment where developers, landowners, submit sites which they are seeking to develop.
This call for sites process does not mean these proposed developments are backed or agreed by the council but show where others think development should go.
"It has no legal weight but it is one of the many pieces of evidence used in the local plan process to look at possible sites for development.
“The local plan will start looking at sites in detail next year and a further consultation is planned for summer 2021 when residents and local organisations will be asked to have their say.
“In addition any site coming forward would also have to go through the normal planning process.”
Wickhambrook Parish Council is due to discuss the land identified on November 26.
Residents can submit comments about whether they think the land is suitable for houses in the ‘Settlements’ section of the West Suffolk Local Plan Issues and Options document, until December 22. To do so, visit www.westsuffolk.inconsult.uk