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Chilton Woods development plans for Sudbury take key step forward after terms of £35m site sale to developer agreed

The sale of a planned development site for 1,150 new homes in Sudbury is finally set to go ahead this year, following delays caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Suffolk County Council announced it has exchanged contracts to sell Chilton Woods – located on the northern edge of Sudbury – as a single lot to housebuilder Taylor Wimpey for a price of £35 million, to take the development forward in the coming years.

Outline permission for the plans, which also include 15 hectares of employment land, a new village centre, a primary school and pre-school, a sports pavilion and playing fields, was granted in 2018.

Artist's impression of the 1,150-home Chilton Woods development. (39533538)
Artist's impression of the 1,150-home Chilton Woods development. (39533538)

The county council says the sale is expected to be completed in the next six months, allowing the developer to submit its final detailed plans for full planning approval.

Nick Gowrley, Suffolk’s cabinet member for housing and economic development, said: “It is fantastic that, by achieving this sale, Suffolk County Council has been able to support the housing and employment aspirations for the Sudbury area, as laid out in Babergh’s local plan.

“We have also made sure to consider future community needs, including open green spaces, a community woodland and children’s play areas, providing real social value to the development.

“All this has been achieved while getting a good financial return for the land itself.”

But concerns have been raised about what form the final Chilton Woods plans will take, and the knock-on effects it will have on the rest of Sudbury.

Environmental campaigner Nick Miller told the Free Press he is hopeful that a working group can be set up to enable the public to engage with the developer.

“This will be earth-shaking, because there are so many implications for the Sudbury area,” he said. “Some implications are strongly negative, not least the effects of traffic, including during the years of construction.”

The outline planning application for Chilton Woods states that 25 per cent of the 1,150 properties will be classed as affordable homes, while 50 per cent of the overall site is allocated as “green space”.

Following the land sale, Taylor Wimpey will be expected to submit its final plans to Babergh District Council for approval, before construction can go ahead.

David Pelle, land and planning director for Taylor Wimpey East London, stated he was thrilled to have exchanged the contracts for the sale, and voiced his gratitude to Suffolk County Council for its “positive and proactive approach” during the coronavirus lockdown.

“This was a mammoth team effort to get such a large scale deal done in such an uncertain time,” he said.

“This is a significant site for both Taylor Wimpey and the parishes of Chilton, Acton, Sudbury and Long Melford that brings a range of benefits to the local area.

“We are now looking forward to engaging with residents, community stakeholders and councils as we finalise our plans before commencing construction.”

It is understood that building work on Chilton Woods is targeted to commence in 2021, with the aim of delivering the entire development over a ten-year period.

Babergh District Council leader John Ward added: “Chilton Woods is a hugely significant development, not just because of the much-needed housing, but also the future employment, facilities and infrastructure that it will provide for Sudbury.

“We look forward to supporting the creation of a new community within our district over coming years and the benefits that it will bring to the local area.”

However, Mr Miller, of the Sudbury Area Green Belt Group, argued that clarity is still needed on key aspects of the plans, such as the industrial area of the site, and how the planned hotel could be affected by the collapse of development proposals at Belle Vue Park.

“From the point of view of wildlife, and publicly-accessible green space, the decisions from the reserved matters application will be crucial,” he told the Free Press.

“Some implications are potentially very positive, including the possibility of some respite in the developments on other wildlife crucial sites on Sudbury’s perimeter.

“These issues will, of course, be key in this autumn’s consultation on the local plan.

“Meanwhile, I will take up again my negotiations with the developer, for some small but important improvements to the Chilton Woods master plan.

“I hope that a working group can be set up, to co-ordinate an approach to the planning process, that was so sadly lacking at the time of the 2018 planning application.”