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Plan for 375 homes and school in Lakenheath is approved by planning committee

The site on station road where 375 homes and a new school are planned'[Googlemaps] ANL-160229-145134001
The site on station road where 375 homes and a new school are planned'[Googlemaps] ANL-160229-145134001

A controversial plan for 375 homes and a school, over which Lakenheath Parish Council threatened a legal challenge, has been approved by councillors.

Yesterday, Forest Heath’s Development Control Committee again considered the plan for land off Station Road which has been modified to try to answer local criticism.

The 91-page report to the committee – 11 pages of which cover parish council objections – recommended councillors approve the hybrid application.

The Cobbold Family and Pigeon Investment Management sought full permission for a new vehicle access to Station Road and entrance to a new primary school plus outline permission for up to 375 homes and the provision of land for the school, ecological mitigation, open space and infrastructure.

The new plan sees the school site move from the back of the site to the front and includes reports and surveys demanded by the council.

The original application, put in in 2014, was withdrawn from the committee’s agenda on March 2 ‘to enable appropriate consideration of a direct threat of legal challenge’ by the parish council.

It returned to them at a special meeting in April after Suffolk County Council took the unique step of asking if they were ‘minded’ to grant permission so it could start on planning the school – a move that Hermione Brown, vice-chair of Lakenheath Parish Council, called ‘irresponsible’.

The parish says it is an unsuitable site for a school because of it’s closeness to flight paths for RAF Lakenheath. It also has concerns about parking during school movement times and traffic impacts.

The committee decided to tell the county it was ‘of a mind to grant permission’, but officers have told them they must now ignore that decision. They add: “The planning application will be determined in light of the strength of evidence which currently exists, which has changed since the April committee meeting.”

Officers say aviation advice on noise has not been challenged and add: “The MOD noise contour map confirms the application site is less affected by noise than other parts of the village,”

Approval is subject to Section 106 contributions including land and cash for the new school, public open space, walking and cycle routes and contributions of £436,478 towards pre-school, library and health provisions

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