Reprieve in fight over homes

A village’s campaign to stop a new housing development has won a reprieve after a council withdrew the application.

Lakenheath Parish Council had warned it would take legal action against the district council if it agreed the scheme for 67 homes in Briscoe Way without taking a strategic look at future development in the village.

The decision by Forest Heath District Council to defer a decision on the plan has been welcomed by the Lakenheath Action Group which is calling for a ‘masterplan’ for the village and is opposed to ‘piece-meal’ development.

On Wednesday when district council planners were due to approve the development, Suffolk County Council issued a ‘holding’ objection linked to concerns that the village primary school was already full and a new school for 315 pupils could be needed, and the matter was deferred. It has now called for a meeting so all interested parties can discuss an ‘holistic approach to future development’.

Lakenheath residents are concerned by a number of proposed housing schemes in the village including 900 homes on land next to Eriswell Road, 100 homes at Rabbit Hill Covert and the 500 homes which are coming onto the market in Eriswell close to RAF Lakenheath.

A spokesman for Lakenheath Action Group said: “If we don’t get round the table to discuss this then we will go to judicial review. It is an extreme measure but one we will have to take if we don’t get a good result in terms of what is best for the community. We need master planning where there is housing development which includes provision of infrastructure. A meeting is a pre-requisite to moving forward. If Forest Heath don’t play ball then we will press the trigger for a judicial review. This situation has opened the floodgates to a developer stampede. It’s like a gold rush.”

Ian Smith, vice-chairman of Lakenheath Parish Council said: “ Hopefully we can sit down with the developers and other councillors. If we must build we would like to see certain things in return so the infrastructure is in place before people move to the village. Hopefully we can get a good result for everybody.”

A spokesman for Forest Heath said: “We have received both a holding objection from Suffolk County Council and a letter, on behalf of Lakenheath Parish Council, indicating that they may seek a judicial review if the development was approved.

“We had no option other than to withdraw the application following the holding objection which we only received on the day of the development control committee meeting.”