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Controversial Grundisburgh housing development approved by casting vote

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Controversial plans for a new housing development in Grundisburgh that attracted hundreds of objections have been approved by a casting vote.

Hopkins Homes’ proposals for 70 homes on land off Park Road and Chapel Road were deferred in the summer amid concerns over highways matters – particularly around narrow single-lane roads with pinch points nearby.

East Suffolk Council’s planning south committee opted to defer Hopkins’ two duplicate applications so that an independent highways assessment could be sought, given that Suffolk County Council Highways did not raise any objections.

Plans for 70 homes in Grundisburgh. Picture: HOPKINS HOMES (52751873)
Plans for 70 homes in Grundisburgh. Picture: HOPKINS HOMES (52751873)

That assessment has returned, with a number of suggested conditions for the application to progress. The council planning officers confirmed that there were no outstanding matters around highways that would mean they could be the grounds for refusal.

On Tuesday afternoon, the committee was split on four votes each on whether to approve, with the committee chairman Debbie McCallum using her casting vote to approve.

A deferral was considered given a public consultation has another couple of weeks to run on the updates, but as Hopkins triggered an appeal on one of the applications over non-determination in the allotted time period, the council was required to set out a position.

Park Road and adjacent land Hopkins Homes wants to develop for 70 houses in Grundisburgh. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL (52751881)
Park Road and adjacent land Hopkins Homes wants to develop for 70 houses in Grundisburgh. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL (52751881)

That approval is subject to no further material matters arising from the continued consultation period.

The second application subject to the appeal remains under review.

“I did approve the application last time around and I did choose to defer last time around,” Cllr McCallum said.

“We spoke of deferral on this and was given enough evidence that deferral was not going to benefit in any way, so I have chosen to approve the application.

“It’s not a position any chairman ever wants to be in.

“I believe I have made the right decision. I do apologise to any of the residents of Grundisburgh but in planning scheme [terms] I believe it was the right decision.”

It is understood that with both the county council highways team and the independent report by Brookbanks not raising any outstanding highways matters, a refusal on those grounds would have been difficult for the authority to defend at an appeal.

Jonathan Lieberman, head of planning for Hopkins Homes, said: “We are pleased our plans to build 70 attractive and high-quality homes in Grundisburgh have been approved by East Suffolk Council’s planning committee.

“The new homes will be built on land the council has allocated for residential development in the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan to help meet the area’s shortage of housing.

“The development will create a sympathetic collection of homes in a mix of different sizes and styles, including bungalows, smaller homes, and family homes, with 23 affordable properties to be provided by Housing Associations and shared ownership schemes. It will also create large areas of public open space, including an equipped children’s play area. Comprehensive landscaping will also enhance biodiversity.

“In addition to the development, it will also provide around £1.25million of Community Infrastructure Levy to help improve local infrastructure and facilities, and around £500,000 in Section 106 contributions towards local secondary education and additional local bus services.”

However, the application has generated a swathe of objections, including more than 400 members of the public.

Geoff Caryer from Grundisburgh and Culpho Parish Council, said that the traffic data in the independent highways assessment was “suspect” as it was “carried out during the fuel crisis” and while an “obstruction ahead” sign was on one of the key routes.

Ward councillor at East Suffolk Tony Fryatt stressed that the objectors were not NIMBYs, and added: “This is a very sensitive area and the reason you are getting inundated with complaints is because they are all damn-well justified.”

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