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Concerns over new homes proposals in Onehouse

Onehouse Parish Council fears housing developers are taking advantage of the lockdown to push through plans without adequate consultation time.

The parish council voiced its concerns after an application for either 146 homes or 129 homes and a 66-bed residential care facility on land south of Union Road were submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council.

Nicky Willshere, parish council chairman, said the application went against criteria in the area action plan and was outside the settlement boundary of Stowmarket. Village boundaries could be moved as a result.

Onehouse near Stowmarket. (34626920)
Onehouse near Stowmarket. (34626920)

“I think it is disgraceful that developers are taking advantage of the lockdown period to push through applications without allowing time for public consultation,” said Cllr Willshere.

“Many of our residents are elderly and self isolating and without internet access, so a public meeting would be the only way they could consider the application and express their views.

“We (as a parish council) have requested an extension until after the lockdown period is over to enable a public meeting.”

Developer Endurance Estates’ first scheme could see 146 homes built along with public open space and play facilities. The second set of proposals could see 17 fewer homes and a residential care home built.

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said they were unable to comment on live applications but welcomed responses to planning applications online at www.midsuffolk.gov.uk/planning

She added: “Any application we receive is always considered carefully, whether by our officers and or councillors during a committee, balancing all aspects and comments of an application before reaching a final decision, to ensure we have the right type of homes in the right places.

“While we fully acknowledge and appreciate the issues raised by the parish council, there is a very clear expectation on the local planning authority that it will continue to undertake consultations and explore innovative solutions to planning decision making during Covid-19.

“We have extended the time for local community comments to be made by a further 21 days. We will also work with the parish council to agree a suitable deadline within which to receive its formal response.”

A spokesperson for Endurance Estates said they carried out a 'programme of engagement' with the community before the planning application was submitted.

They said emerging proposals were presented at a Onehouse Parish Council meeting, a public exhibition presenting emerging plans to the community was held at Stowmarket Rugby Club, a consultation for written comments on the proposals remained open until November 27 and proposals were also presented at a Stowmarket Parish Council meeting.

"Endurance Estates are in close contact with Mid Suffolk District Council planning officers regarding the district council’s own statutory public consultation process and will continue to engage with the district council and parish council on these matters as required as part of the determination of the planning application," they added.

Meanwhile, outline plans have been submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council for up to 65 homes on land to the west of the former bacon factory, in Elmswell.

The proposals also include the safeguarding of land for a potential future relief road, along with public open space and landscaping.

Applicant Harrow Estates said it would include affordable homes in the mix of dwellings.

The site is close to the former bacon factory, where 190 homes are currently under construction.

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