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Viewing entries posted in May 2017

Parish council's views of housing developments

25 May 2017

The parish council  is keen for all village residents to understand its position on how the village should grow over the next few years. That's why the public meeting has been arranged for next week.

 

It has also published this report which explains in detail how it is approaching all dealings with the Mid Suffolk District Council regarding planning applications:

'The Parish Council remains committed to its original (Dec 2015) view that the village could accommodate a growth of 50 units over the coming 10 years and will reject proposals that exceed this. The PC was advised by MSDC that it was a village that was identified by them as accommodating a share of 500 houses across 11 ‘primary’ villages in the district. This was deemed acceptable and became the shared view of most of the community. It reflected the level of development seen over the previous 8 years and seemed sustainable and contributed to the identified local housing need. Any site that was to be developed would need to be a rural exception site as there was no infilling or few brownfield localities available in the village.

The successful applications via ‘hybrid’ submissions have left the PC disappointed with the permissions granted. In the recent hybrid planning processes, some community benefits will be garnered including affordable homes, the additional hybrid elements are not considered to necessarily to have the widest community benefit. The sense that the developments were ‘bounced’ on the community is widely felt. Each set of proposals should have been detached so that each could have been supported/challenged on its own merits and not attached to some community gain.

The Parish Council has reservations about the procedural processes at MSDC for the development agreed for New Street (March22nd 2017 – Panel B) and is looking at what can be taken further, in that inaccuracies were present in presentations, no member visits were recorded and there were procedural uncertainties.

Recent village survey and petition May 2017

The PC organised a village survey to every household in the village and its outskirts which was to ascertain the village view of development as well as much more to allow the development of an Enhanced Village Plan. A Neighbourhood Development Plan had been considered previously (Oct 2015) and rejected on grounds of cost, practicality, timescale and value. A view accepted widely (only 15 out of 200 communities in MSDC and Babergh DC beginning the process and only a few at completion as of Feb 2017, MSDC Scrutiny Committee). Indeed MSDC Planning officers were minded to find additional methods to ensure the local voice is heard, (SALC update at Mildenhall March 2nd 2017). Fressingfield Parish Council feel that the local planning processes and procedures are allowing due diligence not to be applied to planning in our area.

The Survey reveals an overwhelming confirmation of the PC’s view that 50 units was acceptable, with 64% agreeing to 0-50 houses and a further 24% saying between 50-100 homes. More detailed analysis is available across the whole survey (May2017). A petition carried out by concerned villagers received an overwhelming 94% support for restricting development to the 50 units limit proposed by the PC.

Thus it is clear that there is very little support within the village for the possible 200+ houses proposed in the coming months. The cumulative impact on present services is not at all sustainable and is alarming to all living locally.

Impact of MSDC shortcomings

The PC in part understands the circumstances that the Government has put MSDC in, in that without sufficient landbank provision and without an up to date Local Plan and the identified ‘policy of growth and saying yes to applications unless there is good sustainability reasons not to’, the pressures are great. We also recognise that there are several villages in a similar predicament to Fressingfield.

The status of ‘primary villages’ is now lost. Yet having identified possible development locations across the district, including the seven greenfield sites in Fressingfield, MSDC is allowing considerable potential exploitation by developers.

Responding to individual applications

The PC will continue to respond individually and particularly to each application as it is presented but believes that the limit as declared on Dec 2015 of 50 houses has been met and any further growth will be cumulatively damaging to village and its services.

 Over development and sustainability

Below are areas of ‘sustainability’ that we feel material to the denial of any further planning permissions in Fressingfield and should be considered carefully

  1. Doubling size of village:
    The village of 444 households will be added to by the 50 agreed houses which are felt to be within the capacity of the community to absorb over the next ten years. The potential addition of  200+ or perhaps more in that other sites have been identified in MSDC plan is of great concern.  This number would be added to the village core of 350 houses, in that 80+ properties are well outside the village centre.

    The cumulative effect on all services and facilities seems monstrous with a severe reduction for all existing villagers and for those who move into the 50 units already agreed. All infrastructure improvements lag behind development and in the meantime everyone suffers.

  2. Educational consequences:
    The challenges for educational provision greatly exercises the providers in the area at both primary and secondary school levels. The pattern of provision is very much in transition as SCC control diminishes  and other patterns emerge. The range of uncertainty is large and views offered must take into account this fluidity. The possible transition stage from a stable school population of around 140 pupils to one that results from large scale increases due to significant building/housing developments would impact deleteriously on the children in the school with likely larger class sizes and compressed accommodation. The sustainability of increased numbers relies on robust capital programmes, whose availability is unlikely in the near future.

    Yet herewith a view from the village Primary School, from Fressingfield School Governors ~ May 2017

    Impact of planned and potential housing developments on Fressingfield Primary School
    Primary age schooling in Fressingfield will certainly be affected by local housing developments and the resultant increase in the village population.
    School funding is based primarily on pupil numbers and the governors have a long-term plan to increase numbers in order to strengthen the sustainability and future of the school.  There are currently 123 pupils on roll and this number does not generate sufficient funding for enough teachers to teach separate year groups, and one or two years have to be split between classes.   The school has an allocation of 140 places from the Local Authority and would benefit from a growth in roll to that number, which could be accommodated within the teaching space available in the school.
    The school has already identified a small but steady increase in roll within the next three years, based on known numbers, and we expect to be able to employ an additional teacher in 2018.  With the 46 housing units already planned for Fressingfield, we might expect, based on a given ratio of approximately 20 children per 50-unit mixed development,that the school population would grow sufficiently to further justify the additional class teacher, whilst not requiring an additional classroom.  Even so, accommodation and expenditure would have to be managed carefully, as indeed they already are, and staffing costs would be challenging especially given uncertainties surrounding central government funding.
    We would always want to accommodate all village children if at all possible and, although growth to a size which would enable single-year classes would be desirable in many ways, increase beyond the current ‘footprint’ of 140 and requiring additional teaching space would raise both staffing and capital funding issues: given variations in government policy and the current options (eg academisation) available to schools, there is considerable uncertainty around funding streams and governors would need to explore the implications carefully. 
    The picture is complicated by the number of ‘out-of-catchment’ pupils (approximately 30% of the current roll) attracted to the school as, with the County Council facing a demand for 20+ new schools and 4 new high schools, capital funding of expansion in a school with a high level of out-of-catchment children would be a low priority if places exist elsewhere in the area.
    It must also be remembered that Fressingfield School’s catchment area includes the villages of Metfield and Weybread and any potential expansion there could contribute to growth in our school. However, unmanageable expansion at this uncertain juncture could lead to village children being bussed out to other schools – or siblings being separated – both very unwelcome outcomes. 
    In any future for the school, governors and staff are anxious to retain the ethos and feel of a village school, with classes as small as affordable.
    The welfare and safety of our children are paramount and we are aware that, whilst the housing in School Lane has been approved, the proposed chapel may not be owing to the hybrid nature of the application, and we would need assurances of the promised safe parking and sheltered access for the children. 
    So in summary:
    the 46 houses already planned present few problems and would benefit the school;

    the likely number of pupils following further development would require an increase in our allocated number (PAN): this might be granted but the capital funding for the additional space needed is so uncertain as to present the school with serious challenges with possible unwelcome outcomes.


  3. Health Services:
    The village surgery, with a branch practice at Stradbroke (also subject to significant development pressure) is reaching the limit of patients for GPs available. A recent increase from other local areas is already suggesting increased accommodation and staffing will be necessary in the near future irrespective of increased housing.

    Capital funding for the NHS is major issue both locally and nationally. Revenue funding per patient lags behind the arrival of the patient on the list, making general recruitment difficult, this on top of a shortage of suitably qualified staff.The pressure is evidenced already on increasing appointment delays experienced by many patients. This will increase the more so as numbers of householders increase across the area.  

    Another fundamental pressure is the provision of GPs for rural practices, a national issue with a local consequence. Amongst health professionals there is a 12% vacancy shortfall at present.

    Parking and accommodation pressures are already difficult, even with slight increases this could become cumulatively challenging very quickly.

  4. Travel, transport and roads:
    The absence of any comprehensive public transport to or through the village will be made worse for by increased need for cars etc. The facility for people to travel for work, education, health needs will become increasingly impossible. There are no buses for youngsters for college or for older folk for hospital. There are only plans to reduce public services thereby increased housing will increase the need.

    The likelihood of increased cars in an enlarged village will make our village roads more unsafe. Three fatalities within the village over the past few years has had severe consequences and the ongoing safety issues for pedestrians on New Street will only be exacerbated by any further housing in the village.

    Whilst historic SCC surveys have noted traffic speed to be generally within limits, some traffic does cause serious alarm for pedestrian, old and young and any excessive increase in local traffic numbers would seem to increase the danger exponentially.

    More work by Highways will need to be done to assess the potential cumulative effect of highway dangers on New Street and beyond. The road surfaces show  serious dilapidation, and have warranted a widespread of patching potholes etc. These temporary repairs will be overwhelmed by any increased traffic including inevitable construction traffic and additional large vehicles supporting a probable expansion of the chicken poultry at Weybread.

  5. Economic & employment:
    The potential new residents would be obliged to travel to employment and to go shopping in that employment and shopping facilities are limited. This increase in travelled journeys and traffic adds to the unsustainability of increased housing proposals. There are no proposals to increase business/employment opportunities within the village locality.


  6. Environmental Issues:
    Serious uncertainty remains about the drainage/sewerage capacity of the pipework system in the village. History shows that  many household rainwater systems cause flash floods of sewerage water into Low Street as well as other locations in the Village. Whilst new development are obliged to deal with surface water issues, the cumulative effect of increased housing could only exacerbate the  problems experience hitherto.

    Anglian Water/Environment Agency can be expected to offer clearer ’village wide’ advice than what is available at present, in that they comment particularly on each application  and not take a wider view.

  7. Cumulative impact:
    Having accepted the 50 units target, Fressingfield PC is most alarmed at the cumulative effect of the several identified areas for potential development in the village. A proportionate increase will have a greater chance of overcoming the potentially disastrous impact of cumulative growth which is seen as possible unless the MSDC Planning committees impose a strategic limit on growth in villages such as Fressingfield.

In summary, Fressingfield Parish Council feel that the development/addition of 50 to the core of 350 households in the village core can be absorbed over the period of the next few years. We note that any expansion beyond that is not sustainable across the areas of Health provision, Educational provision, Transport and Road matters, Economic considerations and  Environmental concerns.

Above all the cumulative effect of multiple proposed large developments would render the village community as unsustainable across many areas. The potential doubling of the village core would be disastrous for this small rural community.'

 

The role the parish council and its relationship with the district council is explained on the parish council's section on this website.

 

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Housing development - news from the parish council

25 May 2017

The annual meeting of the parish council on May 16 was unusually heated. As a result, the council has arranged a new meeting solely to discuss housing developments. This will be at the village primary school on Tuesday 30 May. Planning officers from Mid Suffolk District Council will also be at the meeting. 

Housing development public meeting

In the meantime, you may want to read the parish council's view about future developments in Fressingfield. It is a very detailed explanation of the ground on which it will object to developments which would radically change the village.

 

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Important planning applications to be considered at Parish Council annual meeting

2 May 2017

The annual meeting of the parish council will be even more interesting than usual this year. As well as the normal business of the meeting, the council will consider an application to build 99 houses on land off John Shepherd Road AND an application for outline planning permission for residential development on Post Mill Lane.

The meeting, on Tuesday 16 May, will be in Sancroft Hall and will begin at 7.30pm.

The details of the meeting have been placed on the council's page. On that page, there is also a new section giving information about the council's powers and responsibilities.

If you wish to make any comments about either of these two applications online, you will have to get a move on. Mid Suffolk District Council's website will be offline for three weeks from Friday 12 May. You can follow this link to find and comment on any application:-

 http://planningpages.midsuffolk.gov.uk/online-applications/

 

For the application for 99 homes off John Shepherd Road, just type the reference number 1432/17 in the search box.

For the application for outline permission on Post Mill Lane, just type the reference number 1648/17 in the search box.

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