Planning dispute could delay homes

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PLANS for a multi-million pound housing development in Needham Market may be delayed by a year because of a dispute between house builders Taylor Wimpey and Mid Suffolk District Council.

Representatives from Taylor Wimpey reported at a Needham Market Town Council meeting on Wednesday that they had received an email saying the project was going to be refused planning permission.

Councillors at the meeting were furious, not only that the plan to build 94 homes at the former Unilever factory site may be refused, but that this was the first time they had heard about it.

A spokesman for Taylor Wimpey later said the project was being turned down because the council had targets for the number of developments that go over the normal 13-week planning window.

Cllr Tony Ward said: “It is a disgrace.

“It is a crucial development for us and just because of some minor details the scheme will be put back.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mark Edmonds, Taylor Wimpey’s technical director, said: “It is a very good example of planning procedures being used very badly.

“To take this level of decision so close to the end of a process that has been run so well is very frustrating.

“We do not want to walk away from this project, even if the district council wants to.

“It could be a year’s delay on the project because we will have to appeal the decision.”

But Mid Suffolk District Council said that Taylor Wimpey’s application needed more work and that it had offered the company more time to get the plan together.

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk Council said they had asked the developer to enter a ‘planning performance agreement’ which would have allowed them to widen the window but that they declined.