Outline plans for a development of 1,250 homes on the eastern edge of Bury St Edmunds will be considered by councillors next Thursday.
The application by Hopkins Hoimes and Pigeon is for a 68.6 hectare site straddling the River Lark, beside Rougham Hill.
It is an area allocated for strategic housing development in the St Edmundsbury Borough development plan.
Officers have recommended next week’s Development Control Committee meeting grant permission subject to conditions including Section 106 contributions to education, libraries, open space and highways.
The outline plan does not include details of the homes, which include 30 per cent affordable housing, but it does propose vehicle access to an existing roundabout on Rougham Road and a new one on Sicklesmere Road.
It includes a proposal to bridge the River Lark for a relief road but the river is designated a ‘special landscape area’ so will be protected.
Officers say not only is the site designated for housing but it would be a sustainable development under national planning guidelines.
But while Natural England has no objections to the plans, it does highlight its ‘close proximity’ to the Horringer Court Caves and Glen Chalk Caves sites of special scientific interest, which are nationally important bat hibernation roosts, so it wants to ensure detailed plans will include a mitigation strategy for the bats’ use of the site.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust objects to it for the same reason and says the development must include ‘dark corridors through the site’ particularly along the Lark and a hedgerow linking to Nowton Park.
SWT also points out slow worms and grass snakes are recorded there along with otter on the Lark and 16 breeding territories of skylark, which are declining.
The trust says the application fails to demonstrate that the development will not have an adverse impact on UK and Suffolk priority species.
The Environment Agency initially objected over failure to identify measures to protect the Lark’s ecological value but withdrew the objection when the applicants submitted a ‘water framework directive’ for improving the river.
Suffolk County Council objected to its closeness to the Rougham Hill recycling facility when plans for it and a waste transfer site had not yet been confirmed.
Nowton Parish Council objected over the size of the development, flood impact, ‘overstretched transport links’, lack of parking in that area and the impact on education.