Calls for 100 homes bid at ex-council offices to be rejected for third time
PUBLISHED: 15:55 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:10 19 July 2019
Picture: RIDUNA HOLDINGS
The furore over plans to build homes at former council offices rumbles on - after the bid was rejected for a third time.
Active Urban Woodbridge Ltd put forward fresh proposals for the Melton Hill site after a previous bid was thrown out by planners.
Original designs for more than 100 homes had led to them being likened to "cheese wedges".
Yet while the latest application featured a variety of changes, Woodbridge Town councillors unanimously rejected the proposal - to applause from 72 members of the public attending the planning meeting.
The town council planning committee has recommended East Suffolk Council reject the application, citing the impact on the wider area and lack of affordable homes as key reasons.
David Hughes, director of Active Urban Woodbridge Ltd, said he was "disappointed" with the decision, adding: "We'd like to think we could've gained more support."
Mayor of Woodbridge Eamonn O'Nolan began the meeting at the district authority's Riduna Park offices by encouraging residents to voice their concerns in a case which has received the largest number of objectors to any single planning application in the history of the council.
Peter Healey of Deben Road, Woodbridge said: "Two years ago we were presented with a plan for the Melton Hill site which was quite pleasant and very acceptable and I recall everyone went away from that happy.
"And then a few months later we were presented with this monstrosity and I feel deceived. My question really is to the developer - where does the deceit end?"
Graham Mole, a resident for 40 years, added: "I live close by to the Melton offices and I will be objecting again to this ridiculous proposal. Whatever it takes, we need to defeat this piece of crass nonsense."
Mr O'Nolan also criticised reportedly outdated air quality assessment and traffic survey reports used to try and justify the latest application.
He concluded: "I would like to recommend refusal of this application on the grounds of which have already been discussed including the affordable housing issue, the size, the dominant effect on the surrounding roads and parking and lack of disability facilities."
Michael Holland, of Old Maltings Approach, highlighted the potential car parking problems and said: "I have compared the new plan to the previous one and the new plans require more parking spaces.
"So full compliance with this guidance, according to my calculations, would require 183 spaces and we've only been offered somewhere in the region of 106. That's around 60% of the requirement which again would imply that there are too many dwellings planned for this site."
Historic England, which aims to protect and conserve historic places, also wrote a letter in support of challenging the plans.
Councillor Chris Mapey, who is also a member of the East Suffolk Council but not part of the planning committee, gave his view and said: "I take on board all of the comments and it is my intention as a newly elected Conservative councillor to take your view points and present them to the East Suffolk planning committee when this matter is heard.
"I have already posted my objection on the East Suffolk planning forum, as any of you can, and is available for you to look at."
Councillor Sue Bale added: "I am as appalled as everyone who has spoken in this audience about this application. Particularly appalled at what I think is cynicism on the social and affordable housing and the fact there are only eight one-bedroom social apartments is absolutely shocking."
Resident Tommy Tucker said after the meeting: "The speakers on the floor stated the case admirably. I am very pleased the committee have supported us."
Councillor Lady Blois agreed, saying: "Everybody spoke so well from the town's point of view. It went as well as it possibly could. As a town councillor, I am happy."