Communities 'need more spending' to cope with new homes
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Rural communities feel they are being left to cope alone with ever increasing numbers of new homes and insufficient spending on infrastructure to accommodate the new arrivals.
Market towns and villages across Suffolk have recently been targeted by a spate of planning applications for housing developments, some of a large scale, but feel they are not receiving the necessary Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding for roads and amenities.
In recent months, there have been a number of significant applications submitted to councils, including for 279 homes off land in Barking Road, Needham Market and 146 homes near Onehouse and Stowmarket.
Controversially, developers Leaper Land had sought to build 49 homes in Victoria Mill Road, Framlingham on land that had not been included in the town’s Neighbourhood Plan.
East Suffolk Council had approved the plans, but will now be reconsidering the decision due to part of the site being declared an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
Other areas targeted include Thurston (eight homes) and 86 homes in Elmswell.
Chris Dashper, chair of Thurston Parish Council, said the village was expecting a number of ‘small-scale’ junction and other infrastructure improvements to mitigate the impact of more than 1,000 new homes, with the associated increase in vehicles and pedestrians.
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He added: “The problem is that a few junction improvements is pretty much all we are getting in terms of new road infrastructure and all of the work on those improvements is loaded to the back of the house building, so no works will be carried out until the majority of the homes are built and occupied.
“This means that those living in the village are subject to roads in increasingly poor condition as a result of the increased volume of commercial traffic along with peak time traffic issues exacerbated by increased car usage due to the growing occupancy of the new homes.”
Needham Market town councillor Martin O’Shea said the town’s Neighbourhood Plan did not make any further allocations for development in the next 15 years and the refusal of the proposal for 279 homes was proof that the plan was working.
He added: “Whilst Needham Market may not currently enjoy sufficient amenity funding, any additional funding which a large residential development may generate would not compensate for the additional pressures such a development would impose upon the town’s existing structure.”
Since 2018, Mid Suffolk Council has awarded more than £8.5m in funding to community infrastructure projects in the district, ranging from £3,500 for bus stops in Laxfield to £2.4m for Stowupland Sixth Form and £1.5m towards the expansion of Elmswell Primary School.
In March, CIL bids of more than £175,000 to improve local facilities and play areas across Mid Suffolk were given the go ahead by the council.
Funding was allocated for improvements at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket and £75,000 to Botesdale Parish Council to regenerate the parish recreation ground.
Councillors also agreed funding for a new toilet block at Stowmarket FC and improvements to the village play area in Walsham-le-Willows.
The council also supports communities through Neighbourhood CIL and section 106 funding.
CIL money is collected from developers when they build new homes, while section 106 is a contribution that can be sought from a developer to provide community and social infrastructure.
A spokesperson for Mid Suffolk Council said: “As well as meeting demand for homes, we also want to ensure that our communities are attractive, successful and connected places for people to live and work.
“The contributions we secure from developers can make a real difference to local communities, helping to provide the facilities needed to keep pace with growth and we work with a variety of organisations and partners – including local education and healthcare providers, community groups, towns and parishes – to ensure the funding can be used in the best way to meet local need.”
Since 2015, East Suffolk Council has collected approximately £20m in CIL from developers and paid out approximately £3.5m to town and parish councils for infrastructure projects.
A council spokesperson said: “District CIL is currently focused on critical and essential projects identified in the Infrastructure Delivery Frameworks attached to the former Waveney and Suffolk Coastal Local Plans.
“Spending of District CIL needs to be planned, so that the right infrastructure is delivered in the right place at the right time."
He said the council also provides Section 106 funding to "mitigate the impacts of development and contribute towards infrastructure".