Plans for 1,050 homes left ‘in a real mess’ as developer pulls out

WHAT NOW?: Jenny Antill, Babergh district councillor, at Chilton Airfield which forms part of the Chilton Woods site earmarked for 1,050 homes.
WHAT NOW?: Jenny Antill, Babergh district councillor, at Chilton Airfield which forms part of the Chilton Woods site earmarked for 1,050 homes.

Vital plans for more than 1,000 homes near Sudbury are in disarray after it was discovered the developer had pulled out in January.

Redrow Homes was the preferred developer for the 270-acre Suffolk County Council-owned Chilton Woods site earmarked for 1,050 homes – it had taken over from previous developer Ashwell Property Group when it went into administration in 2009.

Peter Clifford, chairman of Chilton Parish Council, said: “I am disappointed having worked with Suffolk County Council and forged a good relationship with Redrow, which I know has spent about £1million already.”

Philip Ware, planning inspector, has been considering Babergh District Council’s plan up to 2031, which includes the Chilton Woods development. Mr Clifford said it was revealed at a meeting with Mr Ware on Tuesday that Suffolk County Council had known about Redrow Homes’ withdrawal since January, and Babergh since early February.

Mr Clifford, who has been involved in the proposals for more than a decade, said: “There is no-one else on board at the moment and I am assuming the county council will look for someone else rather than developing this itself,” he said.

“Having had Ashwell and now Redrow Homes pull out, it is debatable whether the council will find someone else.”

He said that the cost of infrastructure, including drainage and roads for the 1,050 homes, may have proved prohibitive, and a developer would need to spend £13million building a new electrical substation, cabling and burying existing cables to cope with the additional demand.

Mr Clifford said he still hoped the proposals could be taken over by a new developer.

“There is a master plan on the table that is fairly viable – a new developer might look at this and see it can work,” he said.

“As a community, we’re still keen on this. It will bring assets we wouldn’t otherwise have and would be very good for the economic development and prosperity of Sudbury and the wider area.”

Jenny Antill, Babergh district councillor for the Waldingfield ward, which includes the proposed development area, said: “The inspector was clearly concerned about the deliverability of the scheme.”

Mrs Antill said she would oppose Suffolk County Council developing the site itself, and agreed that associated costs may have caused Redrow to withdraw.

“Expectations of this site are extremely high and rightly so as we want it to be special – the problem is that costs money,” she said.

“This is vital for Babergh’s future as budgets are increasingly dependent on housing subsidies for building homes. This could have serious implications – it is a real mess now.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said it remained committed to the development.

Redrow Homes declined to comment on the matter.