‘We are in danger of having a village full of only old people’

Young people are being forced out of Lavenham because there are not enough affordable homes, a councillor has claimed.

Roy Whitworth, chairman of Lavenham Parish Council, said this was a key reason why his councillors are pushing for more affordable homes to be built on the former Armorex factory site in the village.

Plans for 44 new homes on the derelict site in Preston Road have been submitted by Essex-based Knight Developments, and are due to be discussed by Babergh District Council on Wednesday.

Mr Whitworth said the desperate housing shortage is forcing young people to move out of the village and buy cheaper homes elsewhere – commuting back into Lavenham every day for work.

And he said the village is in danger of becoming a place just for older people if the problem of affordable housing is not addressed.

Initially, the developer’s plans for the three-and-a-half acre site included no affordable housing, but after objections from the parish council and other Lavenham organisations and residents, some affordable homes have been included.

But the parish council claims it is not enough and there needs to be more to address a shortfall of reasonably-priced homes for rent and for sale for young people in the village.

“We would like to see the application deferred so greater consideration could be given to the issues we have raised, namely not enough affordable housing, density and layout,” said Mr Whitworth.

“The reason it has been delayed so long in getting to the council is that we have queried the figures and, as a result, the current application contains 20 per cent affordable housing up from nothing in the first application.

“We should insist it is increased to 35 per cent as per the council’s affordable housing policy; it is indefensible not to do so.

“The problem we have is that the proportion of older people in the village is getting bigger and the proportion of younger people is getting smaller,” said Mr Whitworth.

“We cannot have young people buying cheaper homes in Cornard only to have to come back to Lavenham to work.

“We need a mix of all ages otherwise we are in danger of having a village full of old people.”

Mr Whitworth said the parish council and other Lavenham organisations were always in favour of the site being developed for housing.

In a letter sent to the district council last month, parish council clerk Jane Bellward said: “We continue to believe there is considerable room for further negotiation, either to substantially increase the proportion of affordable housing or to provide a commensurate sum for local housing needs by way of a much larger section 106 contribution.”

Currently, the developer has pledged to give £347,408 as part of the deal.