Council told to look again at homes plan

The Lakenheath map from Forest Heath's proposed District Plan with new housing areas outlined in red and mixed use areas in yellow. The revised plan will remove most of the top left housing area..'Map: Google Earth

The distribution of new homes in Forest Heath will change after planning inspectors threw out council proposals.

Inspectors reviewing site allocations in the proposed Forest Heath district plan left the council with no option but to cut the number of new homes in Lakenheath and Red Lodge while increasing Newmarket’s allocation.

But Lakenheath Parish Council says cutting its share by 165 does not go far enough and has threatened a legal challenge.

A report before a full council meeting last Wednesday revealed inspectors felt the plan put ‘too few homes in the most sustainable places and too many in less sustainable places’.

The inspectors said: “It is not appropriate to discount the potential for greater housing growth in Newmarket on the basis of the Hatchfield Farm planning appeal.”

Objectors to Hatchfield Farm made a successful legal challenge to the last district plan,

The inspectors’ said the council could rebalance distribution, offer more evidence or withdraw the plan.

Extra evidence did not change the inspectors’ view and dropping the plan would leave the district without the required five-year housing land supply so vulnerable to speculative developments for years.

So the council agreed to have 450 more new homes in Newmarket while cutting the north Red Lodge site by 50 homes and dropping a site north of Burrow Drive and Briscoe Way in Lakenheath, which is the only one of six village sites without planning permission granted or ‘minded to grant’.

But Lakenheath Parish Council’s planning chairwoman Hermione Brown argues only one site has permission, so the district council could change its mind on others.

She said: “This reduction in housing numbers is a step in the right direction but not enough to create sustained development for our village.

“We still remain deeply concerned that, with the 676 homes still to be provided, the full impacts for traffic congestion and noise as a result of USAF operations at RAF Lakenheath have not been fully assessed nor even understood.

“Until the planners respond sufficiently to our concerns there is still the prospect the parish council will seek a legal challenge.

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