Controversial housing bid for 200 new homes approved in market town
- Credit: Nick Butcher
An outline planning proposal to build 200 new homes in a small market town has been approved – despite strong opposition from residents and the town council.
Christchurch Land and Estates Ltd’s plan to construct homes on the land south of Chediston Street in Halesworth, was passed by Waveney District Council’s (WDC) planning committee last night.
However, the decision was not made lightly with councillors deliberating at length before voting eight-to-four to approve.
The committee’s approval hinged on two main factors; firstly the site is currently included in the final draft local plan and refusal, according to councillor Norman Brooks, could simply be “delaying the inevitable”.
Secondly, the scheme proposes the building of 70 affordable homes for the area – 35pc of the 200 planned.
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It is feared this could fall to 30pc if Christchurch had to reapply at a later date.
Peter Dutton, chairman of Halesworth Town Council, spoke in opposition at the meeting and urged the committee to refuse the application.
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He branded the proposal “inadequate”, claiming it contained “many failings” and did not properly access the “potential impact on Halesworth”.
The plan received 32 formal objections from neighbours who said the town’s school and GP surgeries are “already heavily over burdened”, along with concerns about flood risk and surface run off and wildlife.
Councillor Tony Goldson, who represents the Halesworth Division and sits on the committee, was particularly vocal in his disapproval of the proposal.
In particular he focused on flooding issues which he believes will be exacerbated by the development.
He said: “We have a flooding problem in Halesworth and I don’t want it to get any worse.
“Excessive rain is a common factor these days – the flooding issues will only become worse.
“This proposal can flood a beautiful town.”
While the site lies outside the physical boundaries of Halesworth and includes part of a greenfield site, it will allow WDC to demonstrate its five-year supply of housing land.
At the meeting a spokesman for Christchurch said the site was “quite clearly a sustainable location for housing” and no objections had been received from statutory bodies.
He also highlighted the economic benefits the development would bring by creating local jobs and the social benefits created through increased affordable housing. He said it would not present any significant effects on the environment.