You may find it quite time-consuming to make your way through the documents as presented online- but the Town Clerk’s office at Woodbridge Town Council has kindly printed out hard copies – you can go and examine them down there. I warn you, the site elevation showing what the development will look like from the Thoroughfare/Melton Road – although shown in the architect’s plans – is mysteriously absent. So here it is again:
However, do ensure you also send in your comments, in person.
When commenting, there are many issues: the impact on historic skylines and views (for example, from Sutton Hoo); the appropriateness of the current ‘vision’; its huge and unexplained difference from the ‘Community Consensus Masterplan‘ agreed by the people of Woodbridge in autumn 2016, which left the original frontage , trees and Drummer Boy as is (they are all now swept away without explanation, replaced with a concierge block that beggars belief); the introduction of 5 and 6 storey tower blocks; the limited amount of parking planned, which clearly will not serve the number of homes planned and the realistic number of cars and visitors that need catering for; the increase of nearly 50% in the number of properties being proposed (the excess explained by being described as ‘affordable’; the kind of housing being envisioned (‘affordable’ is defined as 80% of market price. This might mean properties costing up to £700,00-£800,000 at Woodbridge’s current pricing); the impact of this additional housing on the traffic and air quality of an area which already has significant and so far insoluble air quality problems; the propriety of SCDC wanting to monetise this site instead of looking at the legacy benefits of providing for younger, less affluent people, young families, disabled people, and those wanting to downsize within the town they grew up in.
However, amongst these important issues, the most significant issue must be that the sale of the site – by SCDC -can’t go through unless and until planning permission- granted by SCDC – goes through. And if that doesn’t constitute the biggest conflict of interests going- I don’t know what does!
So folks, please, please, sit down and write to SCDC fast. If you want guidance on how best to comment, SCDC provides it (click here)
There will be a meeting of Woodbridge Town Council’s planning Committee on Tuesday 18th July. You can attend (please do). You can speak your mind (if you book a space with the clerk first). But don’t mistake this for action. Woodbridge Town Council is merely a statutory consultee. Telling them will do little but make you feel better. To have any impact you HAVE to contact Suffolk Coastal and give them reasoned arguments as to why this scheme should not go ahead . “I don’t like the look of it” will not cut the mustard. #justsaying
A final point. Having invented it, I really really regret I didn’t copyright the term “Giant Cheese Wedges“. If I had, I could have become rich. RICH, I say! And then I could have bought the site myself, and transformed it into fair rent and truly affordable housing for truly local young families, disabled people and older people wanting to downsize without penalty – which is what Woodbridge really needs and deserves!
What on earth is happening down at Melton Hill, with the old Suffolk Coastal District Council office site?
Crucially, what on earth has happened to the consensus masterplan created after the Community Planning weekend? To remind people, it looked like this, retaining the old buildings, the trees and the Drummer Boy at the front…
Now people are asking how – and by what stretch of whose fevered imagination – has this consensus magically transformed into the below (current) plans for Melton Hill?
All old buildings, trees and even the Drummer Boy have been demolished, cut down and removed in favour of giant 5 &6 storey cheese wedges – suitable for an urban setting – that will dwarf the rest of the town, impact adversely on National Trust’s historic views of the riverside and town from Sutton Hoo , alter completely and irrevocably the skyline of the town, and create a completely mendacious ‘piazza ‘ area pictured as a bustling metropolis with people dashing to and fro. Strange. After all, who, apart from residents, is going to be walking in this large open space, and why? We may suspect we are not in Kansas, Toto – but this is not Docklands .
(Though one does wonder whether, in a couple of year’s that space may be earmarked to become another tower….)
Talk about having “des idees audessous de sa gare!”
To top it all there is not enough parking allocated for the – greatly increased – (now there’s a surprise – how often does that happen in Suffolk?) number of residential units planned. How will this impact on a town already chronically short of parking , and where the District Council Offices have traditionally opened their car parks at the weekend for public events?
And who will be able to afford to live here?
So what should you do if you are concerned?
I would urge the residents of Woodbridge to take this matter up with their District Councillor – but the democratic deficit that exists in this area since the last boundary changes is so egregious as to hardly need mentioning. Instead of the four councillors you had- one for each ward (Farlingaye, Seckford, Kyson and Riverside) -you now have three for a larger Woodbridge and district: Cllrs Hedgeley, Holdcroft and Mulcahy – all of one party, by your express wish. By an arrangement they have between themselves, Cllr Hedgley deals with the rural villages, leaving Woodbridge town represented by Cllrs Holdcroft and Mulcahy. And Cllr Holdcroft (amidst a proliferation of other hats including Town Councillor) is SCDC Cabinet member and on the SCDC Planning Committee and is therefore unable to comment on planning matters. As I say, this leaves you with a sgnificant democratic deficit.
All I can therefore do is to suggest you approach your one remaining available District Councillor -Cllr Mulcahy- to tell her what you think and ask her to take action on your behalf over this!