Update: despite all representations, the East Suffolk planning committee agreed the development, with two dissenting voices. One was Woodbridge LibDem District Councillor, Kay Yule.
We will now see what the next step will be
Today is the day when the District Planning Committee decide whether the Melton Hill (Cheese wedge) development goes ahead.
Yesterday I accompanied the planning committee around the sites, in company with several Town Councillors, to view the impact on the town and neighbours.
The media would like us to believe it is a done deal, but decisions are made by elected councillors not officers.
This is the third time this developer has come to the council with plans for the site. Each time, the benefit to the community has reduced. Active Urban is obliged under legislation to provide 30% of the units as affordable units. “Affordable housing” should mean housing that can be afforded by the local people who we rely on and who so desperately need it. This is not what is on offer. Indeed, each offer seems to provide less affordable space.
I am told by the planning department that as your County Councillor I have no official right to speak today, except as an individual. The three minutes allotted for protesters is already – ably -filled.
So I am putting out here the questions I hope will come to the Committee’s minds as they examine the evidence:
- Why is East Suffolk Council bending the rules, and allowing the developer such a flexible interpretation of ‘affordable’ ?
- Why is East Suffolk Council ignoring the needs and wishes of the people of East Suffolk?
- Why is East Suffolk Council failing to remember, we not they own this site?
- Why is East Suffolk Council bending the rules on sustainability?
- Why is East Suffolk Council destroying almost every mature tree on the site – including two rare mulberries?
- Why has East Suffolk Council suddenly failed to include the old office buildings (one, a pleasant early 19th century villa) within their new proposed conservation area? It was in the original proposals.
- Most importantly of all, why are East Suffolk officers seemingly bending over backwards to facilitate this particular developer?
There are many explanations on offer.
In no scenario are the needs and wishes of the people of East Suffolk anywhere in the picture. Yet we pay taxes. East Suffolk Council hold the site in trust for us. Melton Hill could be sensitively and sensibly developed for local and environmental benefit rather than individual gain – as the award-winning Norwich development shows https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/jul/16/norwich-goldsmith-street-social-housing-green-design
So, please come and join us outside East Suffolk House, Tuesday 13:00 and join a cross-party mass expression of quiet concern to encourage the committee to come to the right decision
You can bring a banner or poster if you want, but most importantly, bring yourself. And your children/grandchildren. It is half term. It is also their adult future in Woodbridge!