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
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.
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.