Decision on plans for homes and school in Lakenheath is delayed
A decision on plans to build up to 375 homes and a primary school in Lakenheath has been delayed following ongoing concerns from the village’s parish council.
The application from the Cobbold Family and Pigeon Investment Management for outline permission for the homes on land off Station Road with detailed permission for estate roads was withdrawn from Forest Heath’s development control committee which was due to discuss the proposals on Wednesday.
The application also sought provision of land for a new primary school, which Suffolk County Council wants to open in September 2017.
Officers had recommended the plans for approval but wanted permission to be subject to assessments of the cumulative effects of seven proposed developments around the village - totalling 1,465 new homes - on the area’s roads and listed wildlife habitats.
However, Lakenheath Parish Council has strongly opposed the plans since November 2014 and asked Forest Heath to defer a decision.
It has raised the prospect of calling for a judicial review if the proposals are approved in their current form.
The parish council’s objections include the estate’s environmental impact and questions of whether public transport and cycle routes are as adequate as the applicant’s reports say.
The Station Road site is near the European designated Breckland special protection area (SPA) though conservation bodies mostly say it should not have an adverse impact as long as open spaces and paths are provided to discourage pressure on sensitive wildlife areas.
But officers say it is not yet certain what impact the site, particularly in combination with other proposed developments, would have on the SPA and while doubt remains, the council cannot legally grant permission without the flexibility to reconsider.
A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council said: “The application for 375 homes and a primary school in Lakenheath, due to be considered by the development control committee meeting was withdrawn from the agenda as there has not been time to consider and respond to all the concerns received from Lakenheath Parish Council, along with notice that they are considering challenging a decision made by calling for a judicial review.
“We will look at the implications before deciding on the future course for the application.”
A spokesman for Pigeon said: “We are naturally disappointed that the application had to be withdrawn from Forest Heath’s planning committee agenda. It is our understanding that there has been an acknowledgement that the village will grow over the next few years.
“Providing comprehensive development to the north of Lakenheath is considered to be the most sustainable option for the village moving forward.
“As part of this it is intended to deliver a new primary school and early year’s nursery, on the county council’s preferred site, which needs to be open in September 2017.
“It is disappointing that the delivery of this much needed community asset is being frustrated.”.