Plans for 40 homes in Woolpit and possible primary school extension agreed

Aerial view of land south of Old Stowmarket Road in Woolpit where 40 homes are planned

Land south of Old Stowmarket Road in Woolpit where plans for 40 homes have been lodged. The red line shows the development site with the yellow section the proposed school extension area. - Credit: Google Maps

Outline plans for a second phase of homes in Woolpit as well as an option for a primary school extension have been agreed.

Mid Suffolk District Council's development control committee voted by five votes to two in favour of plans by Pigeon Capital Management Ltd to build 40 homes on land south of Old Stowmarket Road - directly adjacent to the development of 120 homes where construction is already underway.

The plans also allocate land for an extension of Woolpit Primary Academy, if Suffolk County Council's education team decides it is needed within the next 15 years.

Neil Waterston, from the developers said: "The application is a high quality, sustainable, landscape design-led scheme which has been brought forward following extensive engagement with officers, Suffolk County Council, Woolpit Parish Council, ward members and the local community.

"The site is in a sustainable location with Woolpit designated a key service centre and has good access to a range of facilities in the village."

Elmswell councillors Helen Geake and Sarah Mansel

Elmswell councillors Helen Geake (left) and Sarah Mansel (right) - Credit: Wendy Turner

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The development will comprise 26 open market homes of two, three and four bedrooms, alongside 14 affordable homes of one, two and three bedroom sizes.

A condition has been agreed that homes will not be higher than two storeys.

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Financial contributions include £34,000 towards a new cycle link, £184,000 contribution to a new primary school, £36,000 for secondary school transport and £82,000 contribution for pre-school provision.

However, question marks have been raised over whether the land allocated for school expansion use will actually end up being used for that, as a site has also been allocated elsewhere in the village for a brand new primary school linked to approval of a 300-home development.

No guidance has yet been given from Suffolk County Council on whether the new primary school or expansion of Woolpit Primary Academy is preferred.

Ward councillor Helen Geake said many in the community, as well as Woolpit Parish Council, had supported the development up until now as it provided school expansion, with planning committee members raising fears that a new housing application could come in for that land down the line.

A 15-year period has been given for the county council to call on that land for expansion, and a planning condition was agreed that the school expansion land reverts to its former agricultural use if the school provision is not needed.

However, that would not preclude different developers making a bid for homes there in the future in a separate application.

Sarah Mansel, also ward councillor for the area, praised the development because "traffic from this site does not need to go through the heart of the village to access the A14 and this seems like a natural extension to the earlier application which is currently being built out".

However, she said future school provision was "confusing" and it was "the most ridiculous and unsustainable proposal to educate Elmswell's primary school children in Woolpit".

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