Legal challenge to Lakenheath homes and school plan

The Station Road site marked in red with RAF Lakenheath's main runway on the left of the picture
Map: Googlemaps ANL-160816-164508001
The Station Road site marked in red with RAF Lakenheath's main runway on the left of the picture Map: Googlemaps ANL-160816-164508001

Lakenheath Parish Council is planning a legal challenge to planning permission for 375 homes and a new school on the flight path to the airbase.

The parish’s planning chairman Hermione Brown says when Forest Heath District Council’s Development Control Committee decided to grant permission on August 3, councillors failed to take into consideration a highly critical report from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).

Mrs Brown said on Wednesday: “They had the DIO letter but they totally ignored it – it was as if it didn’t exist.

“As far as the parish council is concerned we’re certainly going ahead with the legal challenge to get it called in.”

If they succeed, it would result in a planning inquiry.

The 10-page DIO report, available to councillors on the planning website, makes it clear the organisation, which is responsible for the Ministry of Defence estate, objects to the plan.

The letter outlines MoD concerns as: “The potential noise levels that the future occupants of the proposed dwellings and school children will be exposed to and the potential impact of the proposed development on RAF Lakenheath.”

It calls primary school children ‘sensitive receptors’ to the impact of aircraft noise and cites studies.

The letter has five pages on the aviation assessment prepared by consultants for the developers.

The DiO says the assessment fails to mention relevant parts of the National Planning Policy Framework which require developments not to be at risk from noise and other pollution.

It says the report author’s figures for flying operations are incorrect, pointing out F-35s will not replace the F-15s currently there but will be two additional squadrons with the possibility of adding aircraft currently at Mildenhall.

It says an Aircraft Noise Index Study quoted in the report was prepared for civilian airports, not military bases and pints out that a noise survey only took place between 8am and 2.30pm on one day.

Having assessed the potential for noise and vibration problems, the DIO letter adds that if permission was granted: “The MoD will bear no responsibility for any complaints or claims from new residents or the school in respect of matters of noise and will refer any complainants to Forest Heath District Council.”