Green light for 300 homes enables new village school
Detailed plans for 300 new homes at Woolpit received the go ahead last week – securing "affordable homes" for low income house-hunters, highways improvements and a new primary school for the village.
Applicant Hopkins Homes sought permission for development of land off Bury Road, The Street, which was granted by Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning committee in February 2020.
Proposals incorporate 60 ‘affordable homes’, 45 of which will be affordable rental properties, allowing residents to benefit from lower rents than the local market rate. The remaining 15 homes will provide opportunities for shared ownership, helping those struggling to get on the housing ladder to buy their own home. Both the affordable and market homes will range in size - accommodating first time buyers, families and local residents wishing to downsize.
The development will benefit from large public open spaces, including land to the east of the site to accommodate the future expansion of Woolpit Cricket Club. Land will also be gifted to increase capacity at the Village Hall car park, allowing for further enjoyment of this popular community space.
This is in addition to the allocation of over five acres of land to Suffolk County Council, for use as the site of a new 420-place primary school, together with a 90-place pre-school centre. These new provisions will be partly funded by the developer, with s106 conditions requiring a contribution of over £1million on completion of the new homes.
Another condition set out by the council, will see the applicant fund vital local highways infrastructure projects, including the introduction of a new roundabout on the interchange between the A14 and A1088. In their feedback on proposals Suffolk Highways supported the improvement, stating it would reduce the risk of traffic accidents at this location – benefiting all road users.
Plans also include a commitment to finance local sustainable transport in Woolpit, with the allocation of £15,000 to construct or improve nearby bus stops, as well as a funding towards the creation of improved cycle and pedestrian links between Woolpit and Elmswell, which is on the rail network.
To further meet the council’s green ambitions, the development will include multiple electric vehicle charging points. Measures will also be imposed to protect local wildlife, with proposals incorporating a Biodiversity Enhancement Strategy, Wildlife Sensitive Lighting Design Scheme, and Skylark Mitigation Strategy.
Having been authorised at Mid Suffolk District Council’s Development Control Committee meeting in February, planning permission has now been issued following the agreement of s106 developer contributions. Work is expected to start on site later this year.
Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, said:
“I fully support the decision made by the chief planning officer to finalise details for this development.
“An application of this size is never decided on lightly. Outline planning permission was authorised after lengthy debate by Mid Suffolk District Council’s Development Control Committee before final permission was granted. I agree with the conclusion Councillors reached, and I believe that the benefits of allowing this site to come forward promptly far outweigh any potential harm.
“This development will provide a substantial amount of much needed affordable housing, meeting our ambition for Mid Suffolk residents to have the option to remain local. It will also facilitate the opportunity to provide a vital new school for the village, as well as land for use by the local cricket club and Village Hall – benefiting the whole community, not just residents of the development. In addition to this, the contributions to highways and cycling infrastructure will play an important part in improving connectivity for the village.
“Our council is very appreciative of the efforts of Woolpit residents in developing a neighbourhood plan, as we continue to work with our communities to deliver the homes needed to meet anticipated population growth in Mid Suffolk. We recognise Woolpit Parish Council’s recent decision to modify their plan, to reflect the examiner’s recommendations to them, which will help to support the district’s strategy for future homes.”