Controversial homes site on agenda again

A bird's eye view of the former Fleetwood Caravans site in Long Melford. ANL-150527-095957001
A bird's eye view of the former Fleetwood Caravans site in Long Melford. ANL-150527-095957001

Plans to build 44 homes on a controversial former factory site in Long Melford go before planners on Wednesday.

Campaigners fought against the development of Fleetwood Caravans factory site in 2013 over road safety fears, forming an action group.

Scores of residents turned out to hear the original plans - by David Wilson Homes for 51 new homes - get rejected, a decision later upheld at appeal following a three-day public inquiry.

Now, four years later, a new application for planning permission has been submitted by SB2 Long Melford Limited for 44 homes which include building 13 sheltered houses, a move villagers have welcomed as the previous application did not include sheltered housing.

In a report to Babergh District Council’s planning committee, officers recommend approval of the plans.

Case officer Kathryn Oelman said: “The highway safety impacts of the development have been carefully considered, having particular regard for an earlier decision refusing 51 dwellings on the site, which was upheld at appeal.

“The revised design submitted shows a less confined layout for the shared access road onto Hall Street, which is now laid out as a shared space scheme.

“It also shows an improved mix of dwellings, additional parking and a safer internal layout compared to the refused scheme.”

Controversy over the development of the four-acre site, formerly an iron and gas works before being used for caravan manufacturing, centred on shared access issues in the narrow lane running from Hall Street onto the site, alongside The Cock and Bell pub.

But the new development proposes improved visibility for pedestrians using the pavement on Hall Street, with a second access proposed linking the site with Cock and Bell Lane, limited to use by pedestrians and cyclists.

But concerns over shared access issues are still being raised, with comments by residents that deliveries to The Cock and Bell pub could block the road to the proposed new housing estate.

Although Long Melford Parish Council has recommended approval of the new scheme, it says it still has “major” concerns about shared access, and it said rights of ownership and access for Greene King lorries should be clarified.

If approved, the majority of the new homes will be two storeys high and would be terraced, link attached or semi-detached.

They include plans for 25 two and three-bedroom houses and bungalows and six four-bedroom houses.

Sheltered homes consist of two, two-bedroom houses and 11 two-bedroom flats.

The parish council has also stipulated that it would like the sheltered homes to be for people aged 55 and over and to remain as sheltered housing and not to become retirement or second homes.

It has also requested that the housing is limited to people “with a local connection only”.

After consultation, the council said it had received seven letters of support and 20 letters of objection to the plans.

Positive comments include “the current proposal is a very much better mix than previously proposed with much better parking provision” and “the site has been derelict for years and its development will benefit the village”.

Objections centred around traffic issues with one objector commenting “the proposals don’t fully consider the safety of young children and cyclists”. Another added: “The changes are only cosmetic.”