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Lakenheath housing saga set to continue as parish council plans it next move

PUBLISHED: 18:27 27 September 2017

Concerns had been raised that the new homes could be at risk if there was an aircraft emergency. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Concerns had been raised that the new homes could be at risk if there was an aircraft emergency. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A long-running Suffolk housing row looks set to continue – despite a government minister’s recent decision not to intervene.

Lakenheath Parish Council is “seeking advice” about how to block four controversial housing applications in the village, which together would see it grow by more than a quarter.

The council, which objected to the applications, had been hoping recent interventions from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the secretary of state for communities and local government, Sajid Javid, would have seen the applications fail.

The applications – for up 375 homes at Station Road North; 81 homes at Rabbit Hill Covert; 67 in Bricoe Way and 140 west of Eriswell Road – were referred to Mr Javid earlier this year. It meant Forest Heath District Council could not approve them, while he considered whether to take responsibility for them.

The referral came amid significant local opposition, including from the MoD. Although the MoD has since withdrawn its objections, it had initially warned that people living in the new developments would be at “greater risk” from an RAF Lakenheath aircraft emergency, as well as noise disturbances.

Last week, however, Mr Javid decided not to call the applications in, which meant FHDC could approve them, as committee members had previously resolved.

Despite the latest developments, Hermione Brown, the parish council’s planning committee chairman, said it was not over.

She said: “The parish council’s position is that it is important we truly represent the village its long term prospects.

“We will continue to seek professional advise as and when required to do so.”

Stephen Palmer, who owns part of the Briscoe Way site, has criticised the council’s approach and its spending on planning issues, which he says has cost more than £35,000 in the past 18 months. He claims the council is at odds with the views of people in the village, who he claims support new housing, so long as it is carried out in a “phased and managed” manner. He a called for the council to end its opposition.

“All they do is hold things up,” he said. “Forest Heath wants it built, the secretary of state wants it built but I’m worried the council will keep wasting money in its attempts to get it stopped.”

Ms Brown replied: “When the issue was put to parishioners by the Parish Council the replies received were overwhelmingly in favour of the legal route being taken . We have never been against sustainable development but have always had concerns over aircraft noise ... extreme traffic congestion which will be created as well as other things such as health care, public transport, retail provision and jobs.”

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