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Woolpit set for 40 homes after Mid Suffolk Council approve plan that could also see primary school extended

Forty homes are set to be built in Woolpit after councillors approved a plan that could also see the village primary school extended.

In a meeting this morning, Mid Suffolk Council’s Development Control Committee voted five against two in favour of planning to build on land south of Old Stowmarket Road.

Land to the north of the site is already in the process of being built upon in another project for 115 homes - which is considered ‘part one’. These next 40 are considered ‘part two’ of an integrated plan.

How the site could look.
How the site could look.

Following support from organisations including Woolpit Parish Council, planning committee members had few reservations about the homes and had been recommended to approve them. Woolpit had been identified in the borough’s ‘local plan’ - which gives guidance for where homes should be built - as a ‘core village’ where development could be expected.

The 40 homes will be a mixture of two, three and four bedroom homes, of which four will be ‘affordable’, and ‘affordable’ apartments and bungalows with one or two bedrooms. After previous concerns raised by locals, the developer had agreed for several of the homes to be bungalows - to avoid a restriction of view.

Neil Waterson, of the developer Pigeon Investments, told the committee: “It is a sustainable location and it has good access to a range of amenities in the village.

An artist impression from above.
An artist impression from above.

“The parish council’s support reflects the extensive engagement undertaken before and during the application. The design of the scheme has been informed by comments of local residents and councillors. It has been amended (following feedback).”

Woolpit representative and Green Party councillor Sarah Mansel said: “It’s always refreshing when a parish council is in support. Traffic from the site does not need to go through the heart of the village to access the A14 and other destinations. This site does seem a natural extension to the earlier application which is currently being built out.

“The key point for me is the pedestrian cycle links between the development site and Heath Road. Otherwise it is a very long way around to go via Old Stowmarket Road and people will be tempted to drive.”

Plans for the new school.
Plans for the new school.

However, members did raise issue with ‘vague’ plans to extend Woolpit Primary Academy - which had been given no blueprints or timescale, only a safeguarding that education authority Suffolk County Council would set aside land for education rather than housing for a period of time. Elmswell Parish Council came out against proposals over fears their village children might need to attend school in Woolpit.

Cllr Mansel added: “The application for the school site has now been muddied by the granting of 300 homes to the east of Bury Road and the proposed new school. The county council now seems to be backtracking on whether they want this extension.

“Now the school site is in the balance. It is the most ridiculous and unsustainable proposal to have Elmswell children being educated in Woolpit. That is not up for discussion today, but the county council needs to make assurances. Everything is too uncertain.”

Councillor John Matthissen is not in favour of the plans.
Councillor John Matthissen is not in favour of the plans.

Green councillor John Matthissen said: “I am deeply uncomfortable with the school situation.

“The public expects us to deliver good development and for me having a school in the wrong village is not good planning.

“We have got loads of houses in Woolpit. Do we need another 40? Not urgently. I cannot support this as it is.”

Members also expressed frustration that no Suffolk County Council members had attended the meeting, but nevertheless, the proposal passed through safely.

New developments will be served by new pedestrian and cycle paths, while the application passed ecological standards with a valued large tree set to be unaffected.

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