Two controversial planning applications in Lakenheath have been put on hold by the Communities Secretary.
In a surprise move, just days after Forest Heath’s Development Control Committee had approved plans for 523 homes and a school on sites at Station Road, Rabbit Hill Covert and Briscoe Way, Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid stepped in.
Now, all three sites are subject to notices under Article 31 of the Town and Country Planning Act which direct the council not to grant planning permission without Mr Javid’s ‘specific authoriation’.
The largest application, for 375 homes and a school, by the Cobbold family and Pigeon Developments, on land north of Station Road had already been made subject of an Article 31 order in September.
But last week orders were issued for council leader James Water’s application for 81 homes at Rabbit Hill Covert, on which he declares an interest on the council’s website, and Bennett Homes’ one for 67 homes at Briscoe Way.
The orders mean the council can take a decision but cannot issue the final planning certificate.
Lakenheath Parish Council had threatened to call for a judicial review of the applications because of concerns over their combined traffic impacts and the effects of jet noise from RAF Lakenheath on residents and the school.
But its planning chairwoman Hermione Brown said she had been surprised by the news of the notices.
“It’s put a stop to it for now,” she said. “The parish council is pleased that this has occurred because it gives the opportunity for a public inquiry.”
Farmer Stephen Palmer, who owns the Briscoe Way site, said: “I’m very disappointed. I think even the parish council admitted we had the best site in Lakenheath – the trouble is we’re being tarred with the same brush.
“They keep saying about the noise of jets, but as long as the residents know there may be noise, what’s the problem?”
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s also raised concerns over jet noise when it criticised initial noise surveys for Station Road for using outdated flight paths and not taking into account additional F-35 squadrons coming to Lakenheath.
The Bury Free Press and the parish and district councils have asked Department for Communities and Local Government why the orders had been issued.