Updated: Anger over garages for homes plan in Mildenhall

Flagship's proposals include replacing these garages in Peterhouse Close with four homes and four parking spaces 
Picture Mark Westley
Flagship's proposals include replacing these garages in Peterhouse Close with four homes and four parking spaces Picture Mark Westley

Residents of housing estates in Mildenhall say plans to replace garages with homes will create parking chaos.

They also accuse Flagship Housing of failing to write to all affected and of not listening to their fears.

The locations of the garage blocks Flagship seek to redevelope for housing.

The locations of the garage blocks Flagship seek to redevelope for housing.

Flagship wants to take 17 garage plots in Peterhouse, Pembroke, Newnham, Downing and Emmanuel Closes to build 44 new homes. It ran a two-week consultation including two consultation events which it says were attended by 422 people after it wrote to 477 people.

But residents say even some of the garage tenants have not been contacted.

Liz Ward of Peterhouse Close, said: “My father rents one of the garages and the first he heard of any of the developments was from me saying I’d received a letter.

“Even though a second letter was sent out, my parents never received that, nor have they received anything about losing his garage.”

Peter and Jan Smart have rented a garage opposite their home in Pembroke Close for more than 50 years but say they had no letters about the proposals. As they have a blue badge, they have been told they will get a marked space outside their home.

But Jan said: “There’s vandalism and drug addicts who’ll do anything to get their money – you feel safer if your vehicle is tucked away.”

Residents dispute Flagship’s claim that it will be providing more parking spaces. Ralph Shingfield of Pembroke Close believes, based on Flagship’s figures and his own count of parking spaces, that capacity will drop from 1.38 spaces per home to 0.98.

He rents a garage and added: “I was told by Flagship if you rent a garage in Pembroke Close you will be offered one in Trinity Avenue. Problem there is 34 are rented in Pembroke Close, 20 which are to locals – number of garages in Trinity Ave is 17.”

Flagship says 64.7 per cent of Trinity Avenue garages are occupied.

Becks Bullock of Newnham Close argued: “We already have massive parking issues. When the space outside your home is taken you go into the garage courtyards. They say you can use the council offices car park but if you’ve got children and shopping and its coming down with rain you’re not going to be a happy bunny.”

Residents also dispute Flagship’s claim there is no demand for garages. It says occupancy in the affected garages is between 27.5 and 56.7 per cent, but residents say attempts to rent them have failed.

One woman said she had tried without success for three months while Russell Leaman forwarded the BFP an email response from Flagship to his inquiry about renting a garage.

Dated October 16 it says: “At the moment we do not have garages to rent in these areas. We have a very limited amount of garages to rent in Mildenhall.”

Some home owners on the estates are worried the new developments will hit their property values.

James Power who bought a house in Emmanuel Close three months ago said: “There was absolutely no mention of this happening on any of the searches we completed.

“The two storey home they want to put next to us is going to possibly affect the price of our house negatively.”

He is also concerned about demolition work disturbing the asbestos sheet roofs on the garages.

Lee Webster, project manager at Flagship, said: “Our purpose is to provide homes for people in need and as a housing association we are responding to the housing crisis. The garages are also underused, we have seen a drop in demand with many remaining vacant for a number of years.

“We have been looking at opportunities to regenerate the area and provide parking that will be better used. Our plans are providing parking spaces to meet existing and future demand as well as offering alternative garages for existing garage users.

“We sent a letter to residents from neighbouring properties and also erected signs in the vicinity to advertise the events.

“We are taking people’s concerns seriously and will amend our designs where appropriate. For those who haven’t been able to attend the consultation events they can view the proposals online at http://www.larondewright.co.uk/portfolio-items/mildenhall-garage-sites|www.larondewright.co.uk/portfolio-items/mildenhall-garage-sites|Click for website} until Monday.”

A petition against the plan, started by Andrew Pearson from Mildenhall, is available at www.change.org