Homes approved for derelict factory site

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Plans to build 44 new homes on Lavenham’s former Armorex factory site have been given the green light by councillors.

More than 20 villagers, including parish councillors, attended a meeting of Babergh District Council’s development committee last week.

It took only 15 minutes for the committee to grant approval to the Preston Road housing plan put forward by Essex-based developers Knight Developments.

A mix of properties, ranging from two to four-bedroom homes, will be built on the site, along with 13 two-bedroom flats, six of which will be for people aged older than 55.

Parish council chairman Roy Whitworth was given three minutes to speak against the plan. He stated the parish council was not against housing and would like to see a housing development built on the site which has been derelict for several years.

The factory, which previously made products for the cement industry, was demolished two years ago.

Mr Whitworth argued that the proportion of affordable housing should be increased to 35 per cent – and not the 18 per cent proposed which amounted to only eight out of the 44 homes.

He said: “Our requirement for local needs housing is acute. Lavenham is haemorrhaging young people. Census data shows that the disparity between young and old in our community is already much wider than the district average.

“Average house prices are now 40 per cent above the Babergh average. It cannot be right to see our young people forced to move out and travel back to Lavenham to work.”

He asked the committee for a substantial increase in the £347,00 section 106 agreement – money paid by a developer to offset the impact of any development.

He said this was to “reflect the increased burden on the community of the additional dwellings”.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Whitworth said: “We are very disappointed with the outcome because we thought we put forward a good argument on affordable housing. There was not much debate; it lasted for 15 minutes.” He said the parish council would discuss the outcome on Monday.

A spokeswoman for the district council said: “The application has been the subject of much debate, not least of all because the viability tests undertaken by the applicant indicated that the 35 per cent affordable housing requirement, normally required through council policy, could not be delivered.

“This resulted in the council appointing independent consultants to offer advice on the viability of the scheme and it has been agreed that the affordable housing offered at 18 per cent would be acceptable in this instance as the scheme would regenerate a vacant site and deliver much-needed houses in the village.”