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‘Frustrating’ delays to completion of Haverhill relief road lead West Suffolk Council to issue Breach of Condition Notices to Persimmon Homes

A developer could face court proceedings and an unlimited fine unless it holds to its latest timetable to complete a new £9.7 million relief road in Haverhill.

West Suffolk Council (WSC) has announced it is to serve two Breach of Condition Notices on Persimmon Homes after the latest in a string of delays to the partially-built road that will take traffic from the new estate around Haverhill to the Cambridge side of town - and not through the town.

The relief road was originally meant to be completed by March 2023 but Persimmon announced it was behind. It has since given revised completion dates of Spring 2024, September 2024 and more recently to the end of the year due to issues relating to CADENT moving a gas main that is in the way.

This aerial photo take a few weeks ago shows the partially completed Haverhill relief road. Picture: dji.droneguy on Instagram
This aerial photo take a few weeks ago shows the partially completed Haverhill relief road. Picture: dji.droneguy on Instagram

Cllr Jim Thorndyke, cabinet member for planning at WSC, said: “We have seen delay after delay and excuse after excuse.

“I am frustrated, annoyed and disappointed by this latest delay by the developers.

“We know how important this relief road is to the community and to the sustainable growth of the town and we want it delivered without further setback. Through serving this notice, our expectation is this delay will be the last.

Cllr Jim Thorndyke
Cllr Jim Thorndyke

“We have previously discussed enforcement action based on what material harm may or may not be caused to the highway network but the advice from Suffolk County Council highways is that there isn’t sufficient impact caused to back enforcement action.

“But the truth remains that the road should already be open by now, that Persimmon is in breach of its planning conditions and this continuous cycle of delay is resulting in a lack of public confidence in the planning system.

“It is this repeated slipping of the timetable promised to the community that means that we are now in a position where we can demonstrate that it is both expedient and in the public interest to serve a formal Breach of Condition Notice to Persimmon, to ensure they stick to the latest delivery timetable they have now put forward.”

An additional Breach of Condition Notice will be issued over Persimmon’s failure to deliver a play area and public open space on time.

The route that the NW Haverhill relief road will take. Submitted image
The route that the NW Haverhill relief road will take. Submitted image

The play area and open space still requires remedial soft landscaping to bring it up to standard so it can open for the residents who now occupy that phase of the site.

There is no right of appeal against a breach of condition notice and failure to comply with a notice can result in court proceeding against the developer and an unlimited fine for each offence.

Cllr Joe Mason said: “I welcome the recent statement from West Suffolk Council.

“As the district and county councillor for the area, I have been pressing for closer monitoring and intervention about the ongoing delays to the delivery of the relief road and many other aspects of the wider development.

“The delays to finishing the relief road have been simply unacceptable. Persimmon missed the deadline of March 2023 and they have currently given a somewhat vague "By the end of year" commitment.

“This has caused real frustration across the community, not least by those residents on Withersfield Road, who are desperate for this road to open and relieve them from high levels of traffic and pollution.

“Serving a formal Breach of Condition Notice to Persimmon will hopefully send a clear message that they must do everything in their power to complete the road.

“Clearly we are now waiting on CADENT to move the gas main, which Persimmon should have had done at least two-years ago.

“Once the gas mains works are complete it is essential Persimmon are compelled to complete the road without further delay."

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes said: “We are fully committed to the delivery of the Haverhill Relief Road and would like to apologise to residents for the delay. We are working as quickly as possible to complete the road despite several significant challenges outside of our control.

“Throughout this process, we have also sought to work constructively with West Suffolk and Suffolk County Council, as well as our contractors Cadent, who are undertaking the complex gas diversion works.

“Despite these relationships, it is disappointing to learn of the council’s decision to issue breach of condition notices through the media. As we are yet to receive either notice from West Suffolk Council, we are unable to provide any further comment on the detail.”