Plans for retirement complex in Martlesham Heath rejected over fears for loss of public parking and recreation space
Delayed plans for 41 sheltered housing homes in Martlesham Heath have been refused amid concerns of lost public parking and the old runway recreation space.
East Suffolk Council’s planning south committee deferred a decision in April on plans for a retirement complex to be built on land close to The Square and village green, citing the need for a site visit.
The proposals, lodged by McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd, returned to the committee on Tuesday afternoon and despite being recommended for approval were rejected by seven votes to two.
The firm proposed developing the public car park for the homes, and turning the old main runway of the former RAF Martlesham base into public car parking.
However, that runway car park would only accommodate 43 spaces, resulting in a loss of 26 spaces on what is currently in place.
Councillors said the loss was too great for an area of the village which was well-used – particularly for customers of nearby businesses.
They also cited the loss of the runway heritage asset, which is often used for recreation purposes alongside the adjacent village green.
Councillor Kay Yule said: “I cannot see the benefit of swapping one car park for another – especially when you are reducing the number of car parking spaces overall.
“To me, it’s the loss of an asset widely used, and a visual asset to that part of the heath.”
Recommendations had first been put forward for approval and then deferring the plans for officers to iron out concerns with the applicants, but did not secure enough votes.
Councillor Linda Coulam said retirement homes were “desperately needed” and would be “such a shame” if car park issues meant that couldn’t go ahead.
Emily Bishop, agent on behalf of the developers, described the plans as “highly sustainable and an optimum use for this land,” and would deliver “specialist retirement accommodation addressing local need”.
Martlesham Parish Council had objected to the scheme, but said its fears over loss of car parking and protection between the edge of the green and the development could be addressed with more stringent planning conditions.
It is not yet clear if the developers plan to appeal or lodge a fresh application.