'Landmark' refusal of 18 homes in Suffolk village aided by community
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A bid to build 18 homes on undeveloped land in Fressingland has been rejected again - because it did not meet the requirements of the village's neighbourhood plan.
Developers CE Davidson Ltd had plans for 18 homes for Post Mill Lane in Fressingfield refused in late 2019, with a subsequent appeal dismissed.
A fresh bid was deferred by Mid Suffolk District Council's development control committee in November last year so that more legal advice could be sought on the decision process, specifically around the weight of the neighbourhood plan - a development blueprint created by the parish council and community to guide future housebuilding.
Updated legal advice suggested the plans were contrary to planning policy, with the council's committee on Wednesday morning refusing planning permission unanimously.
Councillors called it a "landmark decision" in which the will of the village has been recognised.
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Councillor Andrew Stringer said: "This is without doubt a landmark decision.
"Green councillors and communities have been calling for up to date neighbourhood plans to be given greater weight in planning decisions. Those calls are at last answered.
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"Neighbourhood plans involve hundreds of hours of volunteer time as well as taxpayers' money, so these plans quite rightly should be the starting point for our future housing decisions.
"Villagers more widely will be grateful for greater protection from unwanted and inappropriate development."
Councillor James Caston said: "We are balancing harm against need here, and the need is low and there are several aspects of harm."
Fressingfield is considered a third tier primary village, meaning growth should only happen when local need is evidenced, the meeting heard.
The site also lies outside the settlement boundary of the parish and is not allocated for development.
It is understood developers plan to appeal the decision, with Charlie Davidson from the developers adding: "We were approached by Mid Suffolk to develop this site because they recognise it's an appropriate place to build.
"During that time we have not faced any statutory consultee objection that we haven't been able to overcome."
Mr Davidson said the 18 homes proposed coupled with existing land allocations meant in total village development would be below the 60 homes earmarked for the parish for the next 15 years, and described it as "the smallest and most deliverable site in the village."
Refusal was backed by the parish council, ward councillor Lavinia Hadingham and Supporters Against Fressingfield Expansion (SAFE).