Elmswell homes pave way for community benefits
Mid Suffolk District Council today agreed outline plans for 65 homes in Elmswell – providing new footpaths and public open space for the village, and funding for local schools.
Harrow Estates Plc had originally sought permission for the properties to be built on land to the west of the former bacon factory, but this was rejected by the council’s planning committee in February 2020, as councillors raised concerns about the adverse impact of the scheme to local infrastructure.
At today’s Development Control Committee meeting, held virtually to ensure public safety during the current coronavirus outbreak, councillors looked closely at how these concerns could be appropriately addressed.
Following a review of infrastructure considerations by planning officers and with input from councillors and subsequent debate - the committee voted by five to three in favour of authorising the chief planning officer to approve outline planning permission for the scheme, subject to a Section 106 planning obligations and conditions.
Proposals include 22 ‘affordable homes’, allowing residents to benefit from lower rents than the local market rate, as well as opportunity for shared ownership, helping those struggling to get on the housing ladder to buy their own home.
In line with the council’s ambition for more sustainable transport options, the homes are within walking distance of local amenities, and the development is set to fund local highways infrastructure projects – including contributing £55,000 towards a new footway and cycle link between Elmswell railway station and the village of Woolpit. As well as commuters, school children will also be able to walk this route on their way to and from the proposed new primary school site in Woolpit.
Suffolk County Council have earmarked this improvement in their Local Transport Plan – and it forms part of a package of highways mitigation measures, including a travel plan and bus stop improvements, which have led to the highway authority confirming that the new homes will not have an adverse impact on congestion, safety, or parking in Elmswell.
Another requirement set out by the council, will see the developer provide S106 contributions of over £544,000 towards a new primary school, early years setting and secondary school transport – futureproofing against demand from anticipated population growth.
Funding will also be made available for public open space and three new play areas, which will be maintained and managed by the developer.
In addition to this, plans incorporate a biodiversity enhancement scheme, hedgerow retention, new planting throughout the site, a wildlife sensitive lighting scheme and HGV routing during construction – minimising any potential impact from the new homes on the local community and environment.
Cllr Kathie Guthrie, Chair of Mid Suffolk District Council’s Development Control Committee B said:
“This was a very difficult decision on an application which has been met with some opposition from local residents. After much consideration and review, we concluded that this scheme would address important infrastructure issues faced by Elmswell, providing the applicant meets our requirements.
“Our committee is satisfied that previous concerns about infrastructure have now been allayed, with the local education and highways authorities in agreement. In addition, the development will fund a range of highways improvements, benefitting all local residents and safeguarding pedestrian safety in Elmswell, whilst promoting opportunities for cycling – meeting our ambition for sustainable transport options as we all work towards a greener Suffolk.
“Proposals also offer affordable housing within walking distance of the railway station and amenities, and will pave the way for a new school and multiple play areas – supporting our council’s vision for communities with bright and healthy futures.”