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Last chance to have your say on future of Felixstowe

PUBLISHED: 00:01 14 January 2019

Stephen Wrinch, Director of Katcag inside the council chambers   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Stephen Wrinch, Director of Katcag inside the council chambers Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

People in the Felixstowe area have six weeks to make their final objections to plans for thousands of new homes on the edge of the resort.

Suffolk Coastal has agreed its new Local Plan, but there is one last burst of consultation to go – and it the process will end up before a public inquiry headed by an independent inspector.

The final consultation gets under way today and runs until Monday, February 25.

Campaigners across the Coastal district are worried about the potential impact on towns, villages and the countryside.

Around 60 campaigners against a port business park off the A14 and a 2,000-home garden neighbourhood in north Felixstowe attended the decision meeting with “Say No to SCDC Local Plan” placards.

Protestors from KATCAG (Kirton and Trimley Community Action Group)  protesting against Suffolk Coastal's Local plan and in particular habitat destruction, development plans for a new logistics park and new homes  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNProtestors from KATCAG (Kirton and Trimley Community Action Group) protesting against Suffolk Coastal's Local plan and in particular habitat destruction, development plans for a new logistics park and new homes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The plan, which has been two years in the making, identifies sites to build 10,476 homes across the district by 2036, as well as proposals for 6,500 new jobs.

In Felixstowe, the garden neighbourhood – which would stretch across the northern edge of the town from Old Felixstowe to the Dock Spur roundabout – is the main project and comes on top of 1,700 homes already agreed under the previous version of the Local Plan.

Project leader Tony Fryatt said government required councils to produce the plan or face “very serious repercussions”.

Stephen Wrinch, director of KATCAG, the Kirton and Trimley Community Action Group, said: “We have concerns about housing and the overall housing numbers and housing allocations and huge concerns about 300 acres of land designated for an industrial development supposedly on behalf of the Port of Felixstowe.”

Use of the land would erode the separation between the ancient villages of Trimley St Martin and Kirton, turning them into a suburban mass which would ultimately join up with Ipswich.

He said the plan was full of “flaws and inconsistencies” and KATCAG would be employing barristers to represent it at the inquiry.

The business park at Innocence Farm, between Trimley St Martin and Kirton, is facing fierce opposition from several quarters but SCDC says the park would support the Port of Felixstowe, reflecting its “important economic role”.

Councillor Susan Harvey, who represents Kirton, said the port park was the “elephant in the room” for her ward. She raised concerns about pollution, the forced relocation of Trimley St Martin school, and the impact of hundreds more homes on our “precious peninsula”.

Mike Deacon, town and district councillor who represents Felixstowe, acknowledged the need for new housing, but said the numbers were far too high,

Having seen SCDC oppose 560 new homes at Candlet Road, Mr Deacon said it was “perverse” the Local Plan now sought to bring far more houses to the same area.

He said the consultation had been a “tick box exercise” after figures showed hundreds of respondents had objected to the Felixstowe’s plan, compared with just a few who supported it. Mr Fryatt rejected the criticism.

During the final consultation, representations will be invited in relation to legal and procedural requirements and the soundness of the Local Plan (Regulation 19).

The Regulation 19 stage is a formal stage where stakeholders and members of the public get a final chance to make representations on whether they support the plan

or not. The legal and procedural tests include passing the ‘duty to cooperate’ test in relation to addressing cross boundary strategic issues, consultation, sustainability

appraisal, habitat regulations assessment and compliance with the 2012 Local Planning Regulations.

The tests of soundness, set down in the National Planning Policy Framework 2018, are:

a) Positively prepared – providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs; and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development;

b) Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;

c) Effective – deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred,

as evidenced by the statement of common ground;

and d) Consistent with national policy – enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in this Framework.

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