Fresh delay in Boxford 64 homes plan
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Fresh delays have hit divisive plans for dozens of homes in Boxford after councillors asked for an independent highways assessment.
Plans by Catesby Development Land Ltd for 64 homes east of Sand Hill returned to Babergh District Council's planning committee on Wednesday, where they had been recommended for approval.
But councillors unanimously agreed to defer the long-running application at the advice of officers in order for a second independent highways opinion to be sought, and to investigate whether a site visit could take place.
It represents the latest roadblock in a two-year bid to establish homes there.
Councillors refused planning permission for 80 homes in autumn 2019 because it couldn't be demonstrated there was need to develop that site outside the village settlement boundary.
Residents raised the narrow village road as an issue.
Revised plans for 64 properties were approved by Babergh's planning committee in June last year and financial agreements completed in December.
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However, that permission was quashed when Boxford Parish Council brought forward a judicial review.
The committee's agreement required a community building to be provided, while the final provision was only for a £254,000 contribution towards such a building.
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That judicial review also raised the issue of the roads access again.
Following another application in Boxford where plans were refused on highways grounds and upheld by the Planning Inspectorate, despite there being no objection from Suffolk County Council's highways team, it was felt the nature of the village's roads required an external second opinion on the roads for the 64 homes plan.
A date for that or the site visit has not yet been given, but it is likely it will not take place until after June 21 - depending on the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.
Area planning manager Mark Russell told Wednesday's committee that it was recognised it had been "a very contentious issue in Boxford" and that "there should be public confidence in the planning process".
Committee chairman Peter Beer said: “Our committee acknowledged the opposition from the local community when originally making the difficult decision to approve the application last year, however at that time we believed the extensive benefits of proposals outweighed any potential harm.
“Since then, concerns have continued to be raised within the community about the highways impact of the scheme, and we believe it is now right to safeguard public confidence in the planning process by thoroughly looking into this before our committee reaches a final decision on these plans.
“Today’s decision to defer proposals demonstrates our council’s continued commitment to ensuring that any planning application is in the best interest of our communities, whilst also allowing our residents to live in affordable and high-quality homes that enable them to build settled, safe and healthy lives.”