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Residents respond to Waveney development plan at first public exhibition in Beccles

PUBLISHED: 17:13 10 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:37 10 August 2017

The strategy for Beccles and Worlingham included in Waveney's draft Local Plan. Picture: Waveney District Council.

The strategy for Beccles and Worlingham included in Waveney's draft Local Plan. Picture: Waveney District Council.

Archant

Concerns have been raised over the amount of homes planned for Beccles and Worlingham at the first of a series of public consultations on Waveney’s future development.

The proposed site for housing off Ellough Road in Worlingham near Beccles. Picture: Nick Butcher. The proposed site for housing off Ellough Road in Worlingham near Beccles. Picture: Nick Butcher.

The Local Plan, which has been released as a first draft by Waveney District Council, sets out potential sites for development in Lowestoft, Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Southwold and the rural areas in between. The council needs to plan for 9,000 new homes, 5,000 jobs and 13,000sqm of retail development by 2036.

And residents have been given eight weeks to have their say on the proposals.

A total of 1,473 homes have been earmarked for Beccles and Worlingham, with 36 already and 87 existing housing commitments.

The largest site is off Ellough Road, running alongside the route for the new southern relief road, where the Beccles and Worlingham Garden Neighbourhood is proposed. This includes up to 1,250 new homes, employment development, a primary school, country park, sports fields, allotments, play areas, shops and a community centre.

The overall strategy included in Waveney's draft Local Plan. Picture: Waveney District Council. The overall strategy included in Waveney's draft Local Plan. Picture: Waveney District Council.

Speaking at the exhibition, held at Beccles Public Hall on Tuesday, a Worlingham resident said: “We are not saying we are against development, but I think there are far too many homes on that site.

“There is no money in the NHS to fund extra doctors and the surgery is already understaffed so extra residents are going to add even more pressure.

“I don’t know how they are going to get the money to build an extra school in Worlingham and three new schools in Lowestoft and the roads in this area are just not up to it. Beccles is gridlocked at the best of times so adding more cars is going to make it even worse.”

The other site earmarked for homes is west of London Road in Beccles, where 250 could be built along with an extension to the cemetery, and land south of Benacre Road at Ellough Airfield is proposed for employment development.

Beccles town centre. Picture: Archant. Beccles town centre. Picture: Archant.

Beccles residents Marie Mann, 73, and Joan Wright, 80, said: “We think it is disgusting.

“Beccles is a historic market town and popular tourist attraction and all this development is going to put people off coming and we will lose our income.”

Concerns were also raised about why Beccles has been given the highest allocation of new housing in comparison to other market towns such as Halesworth, Bungay and Southwold.

Leigh Barber, 32, said: “I have moved back to Beccles and have two children aged five and seven and struggled to find schools with capacity. How would an additional 1,500 houses assist here? Especially with a lack of teachers similar to doctors, I do not think a school being included in a plan is sufficient as it would most likely either be built last or not at all if there is no one to run it.”

Beccles town centre. Picture: Archant. Beccles town centre. Picture: Archant.

He also highlighted traffic, flooding and parking issues.

“If you are going to do it you have got to build the infrastructure first and the houses after, not the other way round,” he said.

The plans would see 4,991 homes built in Lowestoft with Carlton Colville, Oulton and Oulton Broad, 740 in Halesworth and Holton, 527 in Bungay and 325 in Southwold and Reydon.

David Ritchie, cabinet member for planning and coastal management at Waveney District Council, said: “At the Beccles event a range of views were expressed on a number of issues and this included some positive support for the proposals. Many legitimate concerns were raised which will be taken into account in drafting revisions to the Local Plan.

“The proposals as they stand reflect the fact that the built up area of Beccles and Worlingham is much larger than Halesworth and Holton or Bungay and based on existing settlement size the plan proposes proportionally similar levels of development in these areas. It also worth bearing in mind that the level of development proposed for Beccles and Worlingham over the next 20 years is similar to that over the previous two decades.”

The consultation closes on September 22. Visit www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/newwaveneylocalplan 
to have your say.

Exhibition dates

There is still time to have your say at one of the public exhibitions, where planning officers will be on hand to discuss the draft Local Plan.

Exhibitions have already taken place at Beccles Public Hall and at the Rifle Hall in Halesworth.

The next date is August 15 at the Fisher Theatre in Bungay from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

Following that they will be at the council offices at Riverside in Lowestoft on August 16 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, Reydon Village Hall on August 21 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm and Lowestoft Library on September 2 from 9.30am to 1pm.

A second exhibition has also been organised at Beccles Library on September 5, and there are plans for a question and answer session to the staged in the town at Blyburgate Hall on August 29.

The consultation closes on September 22, with another consultation on the final draft to be held in winter 2017/2018.

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