Residents call for new long-term housing policy for Mid Suffolk

Resident Sheila Caesar with some her neighbours close to the planned housing development site
Resident Sheila Caesar with some her neighbours close to the planned housing development site

Worried residents are calling for a new long-term housing policy for Mid Suffolk amid fears there could be a housing crisis.

The concerns follow the deferral of a decision by Mid Suffolk District Council over an outline planning application for 152 houses off Barking Road, Needham Market.

At a planning meeting on June 14, the council’s development control committee opted to visit the site, after 33 objections and fears over flooding and road access.

The site has been earmarked for development by Hopkins Homes but residents believe the application is only under consideration because the district council doesn’t have full housing policy in place.

“Mid Suffolk District Council does not have a proper strategic five year Housing Land Availability Policy which developers are taking advantage of,” said Sheila Caesar, of Foxglove Avenue, which neighbours the Barking Road site.

“If a plan had been in place, then this application would not have got this far and we wouldn’t have this battle.”

Needham Town Council has also expressed concerns.

“We are concerned that Mid Suffolk District Council has no local plan nor five year Housing Land Availability Policy and is therefore unable to complete a Neighbourhood Plan for Needham Market,” said the council’s clerk, Kevin Hunter.

Last week, Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill and South Suffolk MP, James Cartlidge called a meeting with Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils saying they shared residents’ concerns of ‘unsustainable levels of development being seemingly forced through’.

Simon Bryan, development director of Hopkins Homes, said: “The council has a duty to maintain an adequate supply of land for housing, without this the onus is placed on developers to identify and evaluate sites.

“If, as a developer, we were to wait until the district council has completed their site allocations and for the town Council to complete their neighbourhood plan, before embarking on a lengthy site assessment procedure it would result in an ever increasing shortfall in the number of houses being delivered.”

A district council spokesman said: “We have a number of projects working to ensure our housing delivery across the district is sufficient and appropriate for our communities, which includes a Joint Local Plan, a Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment and our new focus on delivery of housing, not just planning permissions. This work is already at a highly developed stage and we will be taking it to public consultation this summer.”