A decision on whether to allow 374 new homes in Red Lodge has been deferred after councillors objected to last minute changes.
Only two members of Forest Heath’s Development Control Committee voted against deferring the decision on Wednesday after hearing changes sought by Suffolk County Council to community (Section 106) funding from the developers Crest Nicholson might change the density of affordable housing in the scheme.
Principal planning officer Gareth Durrant had asked that officers be given delegated powers to discuss the balance between funding projects, such as transport, education and libraries, and the level of affordable housing.
A letter from St Christopher’s School’s governors read to the committee also asked for time for the school to discuss the impact of the plans, expressing concern over whether the already ready crowded school could cope with more homes.
Cllr Simon Cole questioned granting officers delegated powers over so many issues.
“I want a plan in front of me,” he said. “It’s all half baked – this isn’t ready to be a plan.”
Mr Durrant said officers had not had time examine new evidence from the county, which included challenging the removal of contributions to libraries and pre-school education.
He said if these were put back, the level of affordable housing would drop from 17 per cent to 14 per cent. The council’s policy is to seek 30 per cent affordable, though audited figures showed that level was ‘not viable’ in this case.
Cllr Cole argued it set a precedent and Cllr Tony Wheble added: “We’ve said 30 per cent but in this ‘special development’ we’re only asked 14 per cent.”
Red Lodge councillor Roger Dicker moved the decision be deferred, saying:“I want to be sure what we think will happen, will happen between ourselves, the county and Crest.”
The committee called for clarification on education and highways issues and asked for Anglian Water to be included in discussions following complaints from residents and councillors that the area’s sewage system already struggles.
The Environment Secretary has told the council he reserves the right to call in the application if it is approved.