Criticism of plan for new homes in Melford

Long Melford Bull Lane development.
Councillors John Watts chair of planning Long Melford PC, John Nunn parish and district councillor and Richard Kemp Parish district and county councillor
Picture Mark Westley ANL-160823-225040009
Long Melford Bull Lane development. Councillors John Watts chair of planning Long Melford PC, John Nunn parish and district councillor and Richard Kemp Parish district and county councillor Picture Mark Westley ANL-160823-225040009

Councillors in Long Melford have hit out at plans for a new housing development citing the risk of flooding and an inadequate road network.

Woodbridge-based Hopkins Homes has applied for the construction of 71 residential dwellings, with public open spaces, play areas, garages and parking, which will have access with Bull Lane in the south of the village.

Long Melford Bull Lane development.
Councillors John Watts chair of planning Long Melford PC, John Nunn parish and district councillor and Richard Kemp Parish district and county councillor
Picture Mark Westley ANL-160823-225149009

Long Melford Bull Lane development. Councillors John Watts chair of planning Long Melford PC, John Nunn parish and district councillor and Richard Kemp Parish district and county councillor Picture Mark Westley ANL-160823-225149009

This access to the village via Bull Lane is one of the main points of contention for opponents to the plans for the 3.06 hectare site.

Opponents, including Long Melford parish councillors Richard Kemp, John Nunn, John Watts and chairman Graham Eade, are concerned about the access to the site as it would be approached via the junction of Bull Lane with the A134 or through the narrow gap by the Bull Hotel at the junction with Hall Street.

The councillors said these were notoriously dangerous for both vehicles and pedestrians.

Mr Kemp had requested that Babergh District Council’s planning committee, who will decide on the proposal, should make a site visit, however members voted against this.

Richard Kemp said: “It is outrageous that Babergh thinks it can make a judgement on this without a site visit.

“As well as the dangers of the junctions I pointed out the danger of flooding in the area – and Anglian Water has now said the developer’s current proposals are unacceptable too.

“New homes means more money for Babergh District Council and no one worries about the fact that roads are inadequate, storm water drains are failing, the school is full, the surgery overburdened.

“When will we ever learn in this country that infrastructure improvements come first and development thereafter.”

There has been flooding in an area adjacent to the proposed site, while Anglian Water has said that the surface water strategy submitted was unacceptable. It said Hopkins Homes would need to consult with Anglian Water and the lead local flood authority in order to come up with an agreeable plan.

In response to the vote against a site visit, planning committee chairman Peter Beer, who voted in favour of a site visit, said: “Members decided that they felt because a lot of them knew the area and situation they were happy with the photos and that the officers would be able to provide all the relevant information.”

Members of the public have also written to Babergh in opposition. One person wrote: “This new housing proposal will put our local school and doctors surgery under more pressure. It is hard enough to get an appointment now.

“It will also add to the amount of cars using Bull Lane which will impact greatly on the environment. I think this is far too many houses for this small area. This will impact on the run of water, Bull Lane turns into river when we have heavy rainfall, this will only get worse.

“When the developer is finished and long gone with his profit we must live with the consequences.”

Martin Egan, highways development management engineer for Suffolk County Council had several reservations over the plans. He described the Bull Lane junction with Hall Street as sub-standard.

He also suggested there would need to be a scheme of traffic calming measures on the road and added that more needed to be done to improve visibility, as well as criticising a lack of pedestrian and cycling routes provided in the current plan.

He also questioned the lack of information on the possible impact on the Bull Lane/A134 junction where there has been several accidents.

In response to the criticisms and advice, Simon Bryan, development director at Hopkins Homes, said: “Our proposal will provide 71 high quality new homes, including 25 affordable properties, in line with the councils’ planning policies which promote growth in core villages.

“The plans have been carefully informed by a local housing needs survey which sought the views of over four thousand households about the need for certain types of houses in the area.

“As a result, a large proportion of smaller two and three-bedroom homes and bungalows are planned and in addition to the affordable homes that are needed by the council and local people.

“We have also worked with Anglian Water to ensure that there is no flooding risk and continue to work closely with Suffolk County Council Highways to ensure the community is suitably served by road, public transport and routes for pedestrians and cyclists.”

There will be a parish meeting for anyone who lives or works in Long Melford at 7.30pm on Wednesday, August 31, at The Old School Community Centre to discuss the developer’s proposals and the electors’ reactions.

Plans will be available for inspection from 7pm.