County resist Woolpit homes over school capacity fears
A decision on a controversial plan for homes in Woolpit has been deferred after a last minute report said the village school would not cope.
Since the application for 49 homes in a field on the southern edge of the village was put in in May 2016, local people have campaigned against it, with more than 100 attending the first parish council meeting to discuss it.
Last Wednesday about 40 villagers went to a Mid Suffolk Development Control Committee hoping to hear a decision on the plan. But councillors decided to visit the site and that officers needed time to examine a report received the day before from Suffolk County Council which had reviewed a submission made in June.
The report says Woolpit Primary Academy’s 95 per cent capacity figure is 200 so by 2020 it is expected to have 25 spare places but it says those places will be filled by a development that already has permission.
It continues: “The existing primary school cannot be permanently expanded within its current site, and due to access issues it is unlikely that it could be expanded if additional land was acquired.
“Therefore SCC forecasts show that there will be no surplus places available at the catchment primary school to accommodate any of the pupils anticipated to arise from this proposed development.”
Villagers and the parish council also objected to the site generating traffic through the historic centre of Woolpit.
Denise Mawhood, who has been leading the village campaign, said: “What most people feel is we’re going to have some development but we don’t want this development, which is going to pull traffic through the historic centre.
”Other [schemes] are coming up that will be much better because traffic can access them directly from the A14.”
The parish council report on it said: “Traffic from the development will result in even more congestion in The Street, a road which is at the heart of the conservation area and contains many listed buildings which will be harmed by the additional traffic.”
It adds: “Woolpit has a Neighbourhood Plan under preparation and it is becoming very apparent that residents consider that any development should take place on sites on the northern side of the village, enabling traffic to access the A14 without traversing the centre of our medieval village.”
A Mid Suffolk District Council spokesman said no date has been set for when the plan will return to the committee. Officers will discuss the county’s requirements with the developers