Committee gives go-ahead for retirement village
Detailed plans for 135 houses and a care home at Pinewood received the green light today – providing affordable accommodation for Babergh’s older residents as well as highways improvements.
Since outline planning permission was granted for the site on Sprites Lane, planning officers have worked with applicant Rural Community Housing Limited and other stakeholders to develop a package of public benefits to go with the application. Plans for the final scheme came back to today’s planning committee meeting, held virtually to ensure public safety during the current coronavirus outbreak.
Following input from planning officers, objectors, the applicant, councillors and subsequent debate – the committee voted unanimously in favour of approving the recommendation that approval of reserved matters, outlining final details of the scheme, be granted, subject to conditions.
The development benefits from 57 homes for occupation by residents aged 50 and over, catering for increased demand from the district’s ageing population. Plans incorporate flats, maisonettes and smaller homes for those looking to downsize in later life. The needs of this demographic will be further met, with plans for a 65-bedroom care home providing assisted living accommodation. An onsite café located centrally in the development, within a public open space and adjacent to a new play area, will offer somewhere for residents and the local community to socialise – safeguarding against social isolation.
Proposals also include 54 ‘affordable homes’, allowing residents to benefit from lower rents than the local market rate, as well as opportunity for shared ownership, helping those struggling to get on the housing ladder to buy their own home.
Highways improvements to Sprites Lane have been sought by the council, along with other infrastructure conditions agreed when outline planning permission was granted. As such Suffolk County Council, in their role as the local Highways Authority, have raised no objections to the development.
To further support the council’s blueprint for addressing climate change, the applicant will ensure homes are energy efficient, fund the installation of multiple electric vehicle charging points on site and commit to measures to encourage biodiversity.
Ecological mitigation measures include a preliminary Ecological Appraisal, a Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening Report, as well as plans to survey the presence of breeding birds, bats, reptiles and badgers on site. The applicant has also agreed to significant new tree planning throughout the development.
Cllr Peter Beer, Chairman of Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee, said:
“Our decision was a difficult one to reach as our committee was made aware that plans had been met with some opposition from the local community. However, after much deliberation we believe the extensive benefits of the proposals outweighs potential harm, provided the applicant meets the conditions set out today.
“An application of this size is never decided on lightly, with outline planning permission being discussed at great length by Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee before approval was granted. I agree with the conclusion Councillors reached then and the benefits of allowing this allocated site to progress will help support our local economy, at a time when this is needed more than ever.
“Plans include a substantial amount of much-needed housing for the over 55s – meeting our ambition for Babergh’s older residents to have the option to remain local, and providing the community facilities needed to safeguard against social isolation in later life.”