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Council secures environmental mitigation measures for Long Melford development

Posted by Communications on 6 October 2021 | Comments

Details of a new development at Long Melford were finalised today, with Babergh District Council ensuring that proposals offered protection for wildlife, carbon reduction initiatives and 52 affordable homes.

Outline planning permission for 150 homes on land to the east of Station Road – referred to locally as Skylark Fields – was originally refused by the council’s planning committee in 2018, but the decision was subsequently appealed and overturned by the Secretary of State for Housing, who granted permission last April.

Final details of plans then came before Babergh District Council’s planning committee in July, but members decided to defer the application on the basis of concerns about the housing mix, design of properties and sustainability of the homes.

Since then, applicant Bloor Homes has continued to consult with the Parish Council and local community on revised proposals, which came back to committee today.

After input from the planning officer, applicant, the community and councillors – and much deliberation – the committee voted unanimously in favour of authorising the chief planning officer to approve reserved matters and the discharge of various planning conditions.

The latest plans reflect improved energy efficiency measures, such as an increase in carbon reduction from 10% to 19%, water butts for all plots and additional EV charging points – meeting the council’s ongoing ambition to address climate change.

Further changes have also been made to the development’s design to help reflect the history of Long Melford, including the addition of flint properties in prominent locations and the use of Suffolk pink render.

Previous concerns about the housing mix have been addressed, with plans now incorporating fewer four-bedroom plots and more two and three-bedroom homes, whilst still offering 14 bungalows to cater for those with limited mobility and the district’s ageing population.

Those in need of help with housing will also benefit from the 52 affordable homes proposals bring, offering shared ownership opportunities and lower rents than the local market rate to meet identified need. These will range in size to accommodate families, local residents wishing to downsize and those looking to get on the property ladder.

In addition, planning officers have worked with the developer to secure a host of ecology mitigation measures, including bat, bird and swift boxes, a hedgehog highway, extensive tree planting, badger survey and a reptile fence, as well as four dedicated plots for skylarks – agreed by an independent ecologist as an effective strategy for protecting the priority species.

Significant open space and a play area will be offered to the west of the development, with proposed landscaping incorporating a wildflower meadow and a parcel of land allocated to Suffolk County Council for an Early Years provision, to be secured under a section 106 agreement at a later date.

Footpath and cycle links will also be built around the site to connect to the existing network which, along with the development’s travel plan, will promote greener modes of transport and ensure that all residents can live sustainably.

Cllr Stephen Plumb, chairman of Babergh District Council’s planning committee said:

“Our committee made the unanimous decision to defer proposals previously – demonstrating our continued commitment to ensuring that any planning application is in the best interest of our communities. Since then we’ve worked closely with the applicant to address our concerns, with improvements made to the housing mix, design of the homes and their energy efficiency.

“We’ve also secured a raft of community benefits such as substantial public open space, as well as a number of ecological mitigation measures – enabling our environment to be protected, valued and enjoyed for many years to come.

“On this basis, and taking into consideration the affordable housing offered in a sustainable location – supporting our council’s ambition for local people to be able to stay local – we were minded to approve the final details of a development which we hope best meets the needs of Long Melford and its residents.”