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Stowmarket Town Council could take legal action in fight for Union Road boundary review as row over 446-home development continues

A council could take legal action over a disputed boundary between a town and a village following a row about a 446-home development.

At Stowmarket Town Council’s meeting on Wednesday, councillors voiced their concerns regarding the new housing development in Union Road which straddles the boundary between Stowmarket and Onehouse.

The town council wants the boundary moved so the whole development is within Stowmarket but Onehouse Parish Council disagrees. Mid Suffolk District Council has set out a timescale for a consultation regarding a boundary review to see how residents feel about any change and will make a recommendation later this year.

Milton House in Stowmarket where the town council’s meetings are held. Picture: Mark Westley
Milton House in Stowmarket where the town council’s meetings are held. Picture: Mark Westley

Town Clerk David Blackburn said he believed that if the development were part of Onehouse it could leave Stowmarket £1 million out of pocket over the course of 10 years regarding Council Tax and CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) funding.

He said: “The Union Road development is a natural extension of Stowmarket and therefore should be included within the town’s boundaries.

“All the people on that very large housing estate will look for their services in Stowmarket - they will not just go to the village hall in Onehouse.

The Union Road development would contain 446 new homes. Picture: Stowmarket Town Council
The Union Road development would contain 446 new homes. Picture: Stowmarket Town Council

“I drove down to the development and there’s two houses next door to each other - one is in Stowmarket, the other is supposedly in Onehouse.

“It is madness - we can’t be telling residents that they’re paying towards Stowmarket while their next door neighbour is part of a village a mile down the road.

“It is preposterous, I’ve never seen anything like this in my career before.”

The original planning application for the development was rejected by Onehouse Parish Council as it would ‘erode the identity of Onehouse village’ and that there was a ‘need for continued separation from Stowmarket’.

Union Road. Picture: Google Maps
Union Road. Picture: Google Maps

The Stowmarket Area Action Plan identified the site’s potential for development in 2013 and the original housing plans were approved in 2020.

A spokesperson for Mid Suffolk District Council said: “We know Stowmarket Town Council is keen for the parish boundary to be reviewed, but this can only be done following further consultation with everyone involved, including Stowmarket Town Council, Onehouse Parish Council, the Boundary Commission and, most importantly, residents themselves.

“We must be able to demonstrate that any change is in the best interest of the communities we serve.

“In the meantime we are committed to providing the best possible services for people across our district, regardless of which side of a parish boundary they live on.”

According to the timetable provided, Mid Suffolk District Council will be taking submissions from town and parish councils, the MP, local groups, businesses, residents’ associations, community organisations in June and July.

This will then see community feedback submissions to be considered in December and January.

If the boundaries are changed - the changes would not be implemented for four years as it would affect and create conflict with the recent elections.

Cllr Barry Salmon said: “I do believe there is a sensible way forward where Onehouse Parish Council should receive sufficient income to benefit their village and to be able to renovate and repair their village hall.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think that can be at the expense of Stowmarket.

“Personally I think we should not just write a letter to ask what the district council are doing, but we should write a letter telling them that if they don’t get on with it - we will take it to judicial review because it is that important.”

Cllr Terrence Carter, newly appointed deputy town mayor, said: “Having had the discussions and seeing that Onehouse did not support the original plans - it all seems quite surreal to be honest with you.

“I think we should push for judicial review - in my opinion it should be less carrot and stick and more just going for the stick.”

The town clerk explained that as Mid Suffolk District Council had not made an official decision on the boundary, it was difficult to take the case to court for legal action at this stage.

Instead Stowmarket Town Council voted to send a letter to the district council making it clear that the review needed to be completed and a decision on the development to be made.

Mr Blackburn added: “We have held back - we haven’t gone to the ombudsman as you could argue this is maladministration, but the moment they make the decision to go against this we will probably go for judicial review in the high court.

“It would be such a bonkers decision - we have legal advisors who have said we have a really strong case so we are urging our district councillors to take this forward and get this review completed.”

Onehouse Parish Council has been approached for comment.