There is considerable anger around Woodbridge and neighbouring villages about the closure of Woods lane and the approval of the Cheese Wedge Development.
People are absolutely livid about the closure of Woods Lane
Here on Caroline Page’s blog, Caroline Page says
Impact of Woods Lane development on A1438 The astonishing and unacceptable closure of Woods Lane for a prolonged period ( 3 weeks shortly and then three months in early 2017) to install utilities for the 180 house Bloor Homes development will divert heavy traffic between the A12 and Wilford to the B1438 (Ipswich Road) in the south and the Old Yarmouth Road through Melton to the north. I am one of many lobbying to ameliorate this situation, not least because of the number of schools and sheltered housing along the route. When I recently was able to secure permission for 20mph zoning in Woodbridge, a significant rationale was the impact of heavy traffic on our medieval town , the number of pedestrians and cyclists inconvenienced or endangered, and to discourage rat-running on the B1438 instead of A12/Woods Lane usage.
This diversion now underlines why the scheme is necessary. I am very concerned on the impact this will have on Woodbridge’s traders, students, and residents.
Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal Therese Coffey says
I share the frustration of many local residents about the closure of Woods Lane in November and from January to mid-April.
The road closure has been applied for by Bloor Homes specifically to connect the new housing estate to the water and sewerage network which runs under Woods Lane and to make transport improvements as required by planning consent. There is the opportunity to use this time to install all utilities to the development and I have alerted BT Openreach.
I have expressed my concerns to Suffolk County Council and Bloor Homes directly, posing several questions on behalf of constituents.
The highways engineers from the County Council have worked with Bloor Homes on the timetable of the closure. They assure me this is a reasonable time to complete such substantial works. Work should happen seven days a week with an extended working day. I have asked for the precise hours and how this will be monitored.
I questioned whether a one-way or traffic light system could be applied. For both phases of construction, it does not allow enough space for vehicles to safely pass but of course, access will be granted for those residents and businesses which only have entrances on Woods Lane to be accommodated.
I appreciate the disruption will be significant. This highlights strongly the issue of traffic and capacity of local infrastructure to accommodate further housing without significant improvements. I have been liaising with local councillors on this, particularly Councillor Nicoll, who has been working extensively on this.
Please contact your local councillors for further detailed queries.
Both statements are considerably mild compared to what a lot of local residents have said to me. They are spitting nails about this.
How a planning application like the one by Bloor Homes for the 100 houses off Woods Lane can be refused by a District Council like it was and then be overturned by Whitehall is an affront to democracy.
On the Tuesday 19 July, Suffolk Coastal lost its case in the High Court to challenge the decision made by a Planning Inspector to grant on appeal consent for a 180 home development off Woods Lane in Melton.
Suffolk Coastal has considered the High Court decision, and its implications, very carefully and has concluded that it will not seek to challenge the Court’s decision further – meaning the permission for the development stands.
Cllr Tony Fryatt, Cabinet Member for Planning at Suffolk Coastal District Council, said:
“We are very disappointed by this judgement because of the impact the current plans for the development will have on the residents and community of Melton. However we have carefully reviewed our position and have with some reluctance decided not to pursue a further challenge on the Court’s decision, due to likely risk of not being successful and incurring further significant costs associated with this case.
Now this is concluded I hope we can work closely with developers of the land and the local community to develop the best scheme possible for the site that will address the many legitimate concerns that were raised.
We strongly believe that all housing developments need to be delivered in a sustainable way that is considerate of both the local and wider community and we will continue to contest developments which fail to do so.”
The fact that a developer can close a main road for months and no local council can overrule it is also an affront to democracy.
With this SCDC’s approval of the Cheese Wedge Development is the lemon icing on a very nasty tasting cake.
Looking at the site at the top of Melton Hill from the ground, I would say the Ariel Image of the planned monstrosity is far to kind. What it would look like at ground level would be despicable. As can be ascertained by Google Street view here
The development would tower over the houses in Deben Road. These cheese wedges are going to be up to five storeys high.
Many residents concerns were brought up at the planning committee meeting. Here the Ipswich Star reports
The main concerns highlighted were the height, density and appearance of the blocks, as well as the insufficient number of parking spaces and the planned felling of trees currently preserving privacy for residents, particularly in Deben Road.
Among those who spoke out was Buffy Barrington, of Melton Parish Council, who urged leaders to “start this process again with a much more community minded view”.
Veronica Falconer, of Woodbridge Town Council, said the proposals did not do justice to the town.
Melton councillor Jim Bidwell said the buildings would not look out of place at a university campus.
He added: “The would-be developers should be told to go away and think again. What they are proposing is an affront to the people of east Suffolk.”
Raymond Catchpole, vice chairman of the planning committee, said the site at Melton Hill was “probably one of the most important in Suffolk if not further afield”.
He added: “The potential of developing that site has to be realised, however the innovative scheme that has been presented I believe falls far short of the full potential of developing this site.”
SCDC planning officer, Liz Beighton, described the scheme as evolutionary, modern, bold and forward-thinking. What? Sounds like she’d support knocking down everything in the Thoroughfare to build a motorway.
Fortunately they must wait for the sign-off from Secretary of State for Communities, Sajid Javid, who has reserved the right to ‘call in’ the application for his determination because SCDC owns the land. Residents are being encouraged to write to him to get this outrageous decision overturned.