Go-ahead for new homes secures woodland for Wherstead
Detailed plans for 75 new homes at Wherstead received the green light today – including ‘affordable homes’ for low income house-hunters and the gift of public woodland to the local community.
Outline planning permission for the development of Klondyke Field to the west of Bourne Hill, was granted by Babergh District Council’s planning committee in December 2018.
A decision on the final details of the scheme, scheduled for August 2020, was deferred on recommendation that the plans were amended to improve the design – securing more amenity space for the proposed flats and ensuring a better distribution of the development’s affordable housing units. Councillors also requested improved pathways and boundary treatment to the neighbouring A137 to best meet the needs of future residents.
Since then, planning officers have worked closely with the applicant, and other stakeholders to seek further clarity on queries raised – and to develop the package of public benefits associated with the application. The amended plans came back to today’s planning committee meeting, held virtually to ensure public safety during the current coronavirus outbreak.
Following input from planning officers, objectors, the applicant, councillors and subsequent debate - the committee voted by eight to three in favour of approving the recommendation that detailed planning permission be granted, subject to planning conditions.
The development will benefit from 26 affordable homes, with further consideration having been given to the distribution of these at the request of committee members. These homes will range in size from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom houses – accommodating those looking to get on the housing ladder with shared ownership, families and local residents wishing to downsize. Plans also cater for increasing demand from the district’s ageing population with the inclusion of one shared ownership bungalow and two bungalows earmarked for affordable rental properties, allowing residents to benefit from lower rents than the local market rate.
Proposals incorporate a public woodland – which was previously privately owned – enabling use of a community nature area by residents of both the development and local area. An obligation set out by the council, will see the applicant fund the management of the woodland, guaranteeing future enjoyment for years to come. A generous area of maintained public open space to the north of the site has also been included in plans. This will be accessible by proposed new footpath links – creating additional connectivity throughout the development and wider area to promote greener, more sustainable transport options in the village.
To further support the council’s blueprint for addressing climate change, the applicant will take a ‘fabric first’ approach to construction – minimising carbon emissions by reducing heat and power usage from residents for the lifespan of the building. The developer has also committed to measures to encourage biodiversity, and will fund the installation of multiple electric vehicle charging points on site.
Ecological mitigation measures include a 13-15 metre wide hedgerow buffer to the north and east of the site – complementing the request made by councillors in August to provide a secure barrier between the site and the A137. In addition to this, the applicant will carry out fence improvements to address safety concerns previously raised about the site’s proximity to the road.
Cllr Peter Beer, Chairman of Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee, said:
“This application demonstrates Babergh District Council’s commitment to ensuring the right types of homes are built in the right places, with positive discussions taking place with the applicant to address concerns raised by the local community and our committee.
“I am disappointed that there are not more bungalows included in the scheme, but plans do now incorporate accessible pathways – allowing wheelchair users, pushchairs and cyclists to enjoy the vast public open space on offer within the development.
“Additional amenity space has also been made available for the proposed apartments at the request of our committee – meeting our council’s ambition for bright and healthy futures for all of our residents.
“Proposals include 26 much-needed affordable homes, providing lower income households in Babergh with the opportunity to have a home of their own.
“Residents of both the affordable and marketable homes will also benefit from reduced energy consumption due to the developer’s ‘fabric first’ construction approach – part of a range of environmental measures to support the council’s blueprint for addressing climate change, as we all work towards a greener Suffolk.”
Also during the meeting, the committee unanimously approved planning permission, subject to conditions, for the extension of Tenter Piece Common Room on Church Street, Lavenham. Plans will see improvements to the Babergh District Council owned sheltered accommodation complex building, with the inclusion of a new ground floor lavatory to allow accessibility by all users. In addition, the extension will provide a shared space both for residents of the complex and the wider community – enabling much-needed opportunities to socialise for those at risk of becoming vulnerable and isolated.