Homes and shops get go-ahead – despite village’s opposition
PUBLISHED: 19:00 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 21:29 23 July 2020
Plans for new shops and homes in the centre of a busy and growing village have been given the go-ahead by community leaders.
The project for the former site of the sports centre on what was once the USAF base homes area of Rendlesham was opposed by villagers who say the development is contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan and policy.
More than 100 people sent letters of objection saying neither the proposed convenience store or new housing was needed, and it would be an overdevelopment of the site and create traffic danger.
But East Suffolk Council have approved FPC (Rendlesham) Ltd’s plans for the convenience store, two shops units and parking, and 11 affordable homes for the land in Walnut Tree Avenue, which has been scrub and hardstanding since the sports centre was demolished four years ago.
Rendlesham Parish Council had asked district councillors to refuse the plans for the one acre site because it will cause “erosion of the centre of the village” and remove land which could be needed for community provision.
The Neighbourhood Plan is not against housing but says there are areas which are far more suitable and East Suffolk already has a five-year housing land supply and there was no need to go against the community’s plan for its future.
It felt the existing Costcutter supermarket served the village well and there was no additional need for an extra store.
The council said: “The parish council objects to this proposal in strong terms. This attempt to impose housing in an inappropriate location should be resisted. The proposal is contrary to a specific policy of the Neighbourhood Plan dealing with the site..”
FPC (Rendlesham) Ltd felt the new application overcame the objections and previous reasons for refusal.
In a report to the south planning committee, case officer Rachel Smith said while the ambitions of the parish council were recognised, the realistic options for development of the site mean that a community sports facility is unlikely to be achievable.
She said: “The application has been submitted with a viability and marketing report. This sets out the marketing of the site, highlighting its previous use as a gym, that was carried out in between December 2017 and March 2019 and indications of any interest or enquiries
received during this time.
“A summary of these enquiries indicates that following initial interest, the majority of enquirers concluded that the site was not viable for their proposals or made no further contact.
“Whilst the desires of the parish council and the community are recognised, it is not considered that the proposal is contrary to policy and therefore the mix of uses proposed for the site including retail and residential are considered an acceptable solution.
“There would be community benefits from the development of the site and whilst no leisure provision is proposed, the retail units and affordable housing would be beneficial to the settlement.”