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Permission denied: Safety and isolation fears over 152 homes in Needham Market with only access across floodplain

PUBLISHED: 08:20 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:20 27 July 2017

Land off Barking Road, Needham Market. Houses on Foxglove Avenue in the background. Hopkins Homes planning application for 152 homes. Picture: BOB REASON

Land off Barking Road, Needham Market. Houses on Foxglove Avenue in the background. Hopkins Homes planning application for 152 homes. Picture: BOB REASON

Archant

Plans for 152 “ill-thought out” homes on the outskirts of Needham Market have today been refused.

Illustrative masterplan of Needham Market 152 Hopkins Homes development showing Barking Road to the bottom right. The existing estate (Foxglove) along the southeast boundary is not shown. Picture: HOPKINS HOMES Illustrative masterplan of Needham Market 152 Hopkins Homes development showing Barking Road to the bottom right. The existing estate (Foxglove) along the southeast boundary is not shown. Picture: HOPKINS HOMES

The outline plans for land behind houses on Foxglove Avenue, and accessed off the fatally “dangerous” Barking Road, were turned down due to safety concerns around a single access road across a flood plain

The Hopkins Homes application was heard by the Mid Suffolk District Council planning committee on Wednesday, July 26, where after an initially split vote, councillors rejected the plans 11 votes to three.

Councillor Mike Norris, who represents Needham Market, said it was a very good decision for the town. He told members: “Barking Road is a very fast road with a history of six serious accidents and two fatal accidents [in 18 years]. The last of which was in 2016.

“I am also concerned that there does not appear to be any alternative access provided for emergency vehicles in the event Barking Road is inaccessible.”

The application was opposed by dozens of residents, including some whose houses have flooded in the past, with concerns the development would make flooding worse.

Committee members largely accepted that the flood measures would reduce the likelihood of floods.

The application was set to be the first of two behind Foxglove Avenue, with the second phase likely to wrap round the entire estate from the football club to the doctors’ surgery.

The single access road, which effectively left potential residents cut off from the town and the school, was labelled “ill-thought out” and “unacceptable” by committee member Sarah Mansel.

Her view was backed by several others, who spoke of emergency vehicles left unable to access the sites estimated 300 residents after a flood or crash blocking the entrance.

They talked about the “missed opportunity” to create access through a car park onto Foxglove Avenue, at least in the event of emergency and for pedestrians walking to the town centre and school.

Planning committee chairman Kathie Guthrie echoed the sentiments of several members, who largely agreed the site should be developed but the access to the site was not acceptable.

She said: “This was a difficult decision but after long debate the committee felt that the question of the single point of access – both in terms of entering the site and of isolating it from the wider community – meant that ultimately we could not approve this application.”

The application was recommended for approval by council officers, with the Mid Suffolk area currently failing to meet housing targets. The situation makes the application open to appeal by Hopkins Homes.

It comes after 650 homes were granted “minded to” approval at nearby Thurston village.

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