Green light for Acton development brings raft of community benefits
Babergh District Council today agreed outline planning permission for up to 100 houses in Acton – providing ‘affordable homes’ for low income families, sustainable transport contributions and public open space for the village.
Plans for land to the south east of Barrow Hill were originally given the go-ahead in December 2017, however with work onsite yet to begin, a new application was considered at today’s planning committee meeting, held virtually to ensure public safety during the current coronavirus outbreak.
Following input from the planning officer, applicant, the community and councillors – and subsequent debate – the committee voted by seven to two, with two abstentions, in favour of authorising the chief planning officer to approve outline planning permission for the scheme, subject to conditions.
The development benefits from 35 affordable homes, offering shared ownership opportunities and lower rents than the local market rate to meet identified need from the district’s housing register. These homes will range in size – accommodating families, local residents wishing to downsize and those looking to get on the property ladder.
Proposals also incorporate plans for extensive public open space including a play area and nature reserve for use by the village, as well as the allocation of land for a new scout hut with canoe storage, at the request of the local scout group.
A number of conditions have been agreed to ensure that the development is sustainable, with the applicants agreeing to fund a travel plan – promoting greener modes of transport – in addition to contributing £50,000 towards enhancing a demand responsive public bus service, serving residents and the wider community.
Funding will also be made available for public rights of way improvements and links to the existing footpath network – securing safe pedestrian access to local amenities.
During the meeting, the committee sought a Construction Management Plan to minimise potential impact from construction of the new homes on the community.
Further measures, such as landscaping and biodiversity mitigation, will be agreed if, and when, final details of the scheme are approved.
Cllr Peter Beer, Chairman of Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee, said:
“Whilst this application has been met with some opposition from the community, our committee agreed with the conclusion previously reached by councillors that the benefits of proposals outweigh any potential harm, provided the applicant meets the conditions set out today.
“Plans include a substantial amount of much-needed affordable housing, within walking distance of amenities, supporting our ambition for Babergh residents to have the option to remain local.
“The development will also provide extensive public open space, in addition to public transport and footpath improvements – benefiting the whole village and meeting our commitment to bright and healthy futures for our communities.
“I appreciate concerns raised by local residents about Acton having had its fair share of housing growth over recent years – these are not decisions which have been taken lightly by our committee, who must take account of past planning decisions. Nevertheless any future applications will need to demonstrate significant benefits to receive my support.”