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Parish Council angry at way Lakenheath site road plan was approved

The site on station road where 375 homes and a new school are planned'[Googlemaps]
The site on station road where 375 homes and a new school are planned'[Googlemaps]

A parish council has accused planners of subverting democracy in the way part of a controversial site’s planning approval was granted.

Lakenheath Parish Council has long fought applications for hundreds of homes and a school on Station Road.

So councillors were stunned to find an application for an access road on the site had been approved by Forest Heath District Council under delegated powers even though planning permission for the site and a neighbouring one at Rabbit Hill Covert have not been granted.

The district’s development control committee has only agreed to approve the homes and school subject to agreement on Section 106 contributions to infrastructure, which are still being negotiated.

The parish council wrote to the district’s planning officers about the road plan saying: “This case is premature and should not be given consideration until full planning consent for the proposed school and surrounding developments are in place.

“The main concern relates to the soundness of the local plan which has already been put in some doubt by the planning inspectors.”

Inspectors say Lakenheath should have fewer new homes than in the proposed district plan, though officers told the planning Delegation Panel that even if the plan is changed, there would still be more homes.

The parish council’s planning chairwoman Hermione Brown said: “Democracy is being subverted in this instance. Previously when major planning cases have been considered with a difference of opinion between parish and district councils, they would be heard by the Development Control Committee with debate prior to making decisions.

“Neither the public nor the parish council are allowed to attend which is a travesty of open democracy.”

A district council spokesman said: “The comments of the parish council were considered in the Delegation Panel report.

“The parish objection triggered the application being reported to the Delegation Panel which is made up of the chair and vice-chair of the Development Control Committee.

“There is no provision in the Delegation Panel scheme for parish councils to attend the meeting but ward members may attend.”

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