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Withersfield housing scheme rejected by council planning committee

A developer’s hopes of knocking down a village house and building five new homes in its place have been thwarted.

Steve Lansdowne’s application to demolish Milton House, in Thurlow Road, Withersfield and build the new properties was turned down by West Suffolk Council’s (WSC) development control committee when it met last week.

Denis Elavia, who lives next door to the site of the rejected development and objected to it, said: “Villagers are delighted with the outcome of the meeting and the council’s decision to refuse the application.

Some of the Withersfield residents near the site in Thurlow Road of the proposed new houses. Picture by Denis Elavia
Some of the Withersfield residents near the site in Thurlow Road of the proposed new houses. Picture by Denis Elavia

“We sincerely hope the developer will now recognise the legitimate concerns of local residents and rather than continue to pursue the existing plan will be more inclined in consultation with us to amend the proposal to something more sympathetic and in keeping with the village location which we would be able to support.”

The committee had originally passed a motion of ‘minded to refuse’ when it first discussed the planning application on July 8.

At that time the plans – which attracted opposition from more than 40 households in Withersfield – included six new houses but that was later amended to five.

Milton House in Thurlow Road, Withersfield
Milton House in Thurlow Road, Withersfield

Because the WSC planning officer had recommended that the application be approved, the committee could only pass the ‘“minded to refuse’ motion.

Council officers had to then clarify what risks were associated with a decision to refuse and draft any conditions and reasons for that decision as well as detail the likely policy, financial and reputational risks resultant from overturning a recommendation.

After being scrutinised for a second time by the committee, they voted 11 to five against it.

WSC’s formal decision notice published after the meeting said the development was turned down because of flooding concerns, the impact that it would have on neighbours, because it would be ‘harmful to the character of the conservation area’ and because it had a ‘harmful impact’ on biodiversity due to the loss of trees and grassed areas.