A parish council has accused the borough of breaching its own planning policy and warned 25 West Suffolk villages could be at risk of ‘massive development’ as a result.
Troston Parish Council says St Edmundsbury Borough Council breached its adopted planning policy by encouraging a developer to build 10 houses in a small village with no facilities.
It has written to MP David Ruffley and more than 20 other parish councils arguing that council planners should stick to the policy in the borough’s Core Strategy which limits developments in so-called ‘infill’ villages to no more than five properties.
It states: “In these villages, only infill development comprising single dwellings or small groups of five homes or less within the designated housing settlement boundary would be permitted.”
Last June, Greene King submitted plans for a development of five houses behind the now boarded-up Bull public house in the middle of Troston.
The site is occupied by the village recreation ground but there has been talk of Greene King donating a new play area.
The application was withdrawn prior to determination and, following discussions with council officers, was increased to eight properties, while another application has been received for two properties beside the pub.
Roger Anderson, vice chairman of Troston Parish Council, said: “We thought we had a win, win situation for the parish council, Greene King and the borough. Everybody seemed happy with what was being proposed. Now we suddenly find ourselves with a total of 10 houses on the site and a lot of uncertainty over the quality of the new play area.
“If St Edmundsbury is to flagrantly breach its own planning policy – not least by disingenuously dividing what is clearly one site into two – then at least they should have negotiated with Greene King to get the village a top notch recreation ground.
“The implications of all this for the 25 infill villages in the borough are very serious.
“It means that if any of these villages have a large site within the housing settlement boundary, a developer could come along, divide it into a large number of separate planning applications - each up to eight houses - and get the blessing of the planning department for a massive development.”
A council spokeswoman said the planning merits of the applications would be ‘assessed in due course’. She was unable to confirm whether any or all of the applications would need to go to the council’s Development Control Committee.