Category Archives: Suffolk Coastal District Council

Woods Lane development: Woodbridge suffers impact without benefits

Feelings are running high in Woodbridge over Bloor Homes’ proposed closure of Woods Lane “as agreed with Suffolk Coastal local authority”.

And while neither development nor road is in Woodbridge,  Woodbridge will get the congestion without any benefits. We are told our Woodbridge through road will be the artery for diverted traffic for months.

Thus – yet again – the unintended consequences of untrammelled development without strategic planning.

I have some sympathy with the  District Council:  caught between the rock of governmental pressure to build houses and a ‘market will decide’ mentality that has no care whether these houses are homes – or second homes. However this is their party, their policy. They must not turn their backs on responsibility for it because it is not only unpopular but uworkable and unjust.

There is no doubt homes are needed but not these ones. Property hotspot Woodbridge lacks housing for the lowpaid hard workers on whom the town relies: retained firefighters, care workers, teachers, nurses, police, paramedics. And we need them to live here, not commute in.

Reports of the Bloor development mention it will deliver an unspecified number of (the laughably misnamed) ‘affordable housing’ units, priced at 80% of market rate. This will not help any care worker, or teacher  to get a foot on the property ladder – yet the road closure will certainly prevent them from arriving at their essential place of work on time.

What tragic irony!

Woodbridge does need housing at social rent (that’s 65% of market rent) for those we rely on and who can’t afford to live here. Sadly, I can find  no suggestion that any of the housing build by Bloor will be of this type.

What to do? In the short term I hope some solution can be found to this outrageous imposition on the general public by a company set up for private profit.  It should not be beyond the wit of man – or woman either. Bloor could create a temporary bypass across its own development land maybe? I will be writing to suggest this to Bloor, county and district councils and our MP.

I also urge Suffolk Coastal – who agreed this closure – and Suffolk County who will enforce it to dig deep in their pockets and fund projects to ameliorate the problems caused by this closure. I am thinking here specifically of the Woodbridge 20mph and associated traffic calming scheme

Melton Hill’s Cheese Wedges: important unanswered questions

Melton Hill: Who can tell us the route by which the Community Consensus Masterplan became the current – very different – plans?

Two weeks ago I wrote to JTP, asking the named contact they gave these important questions about the process by which the Community Consensus Masterplan transformed itself into the very different plans submitted:

JTP letter/email p1
JTP letter/email p2

“I’ve just been reading the email from JTP detailing the pre-application process leading to Active Urban’s current application for planning permission to develop the Melton Hill site in Woodbridge.

Your name has been given as a contact should I have any questions.   I have several, which I would be grateful for you to answer. As follows:

In this  email you mention,

  • The creation of a “community vision”…

My question a) What exactly were the requirements listed by the community for their “community vision”? Could  you provide  the full list of those requirements articulated by the community in their vision for the site ( the list you provide is cherrypicked). To what extent was the full list used in the development of the design that followed?

  • a pre-application process was set up and the design of the scheme evolved …”taking into consideration the Vision and outcomes from the Community Planning Weekend” and that “the strength of the initial concepts, ideas and feedback from the general public has remained intact throughout this process

My question b) could you demonstrate how the vision and outcomes of the community planning weekend were taken into consideration, and explain how the strength of the initial concepts, ideas and feedback from the general public has remained intact throughout this process? It wuld be good to  check off the outcomes against a full list of community requirements

My question c) please could you provide the full membership by name, occupation and  company of this Independent Design Review panel?

  • that “the Panel felt the scheme had great potential to make a positive contribution to the town and appreciated the ambition of both the client and architect.

My question d) Can you explain why this  first panel “appreciated the ambition of both the client (presumably the District Council rather than the local community) and the architect ” yet the wishes of the community are not even mentioned? Can you demonstrate that the ambition of the client and architect is to represent the wishes of the ultimate owners or the local community? Could you articulate in what way it will make a positive contribution to the town?

  • that a second Design Review Panel with more developed designs was held on 2nd February 2017.

My question e) please could you provide the full membership by name, occupation and  company of this  second Independent design review panel?

My question f) Can you explain the exact status of these two Independent design review panels  you have mentioned – (both the one that met on 3 Oct 2916 and that which met on 2 Feb 2017)? Their existence appears to constitute something of an anomaly: if a panel were wholly independent it might not be fully aware of local issues. If aware of local issues it would not be wholly independent.

  • and that “The Panel acknowledged the design changes and the significant amount of work undertaken in developing the design. The overall change of scale, removal of buildings and redesign to the Melton Hill streetscape was suggested as “showing a fantastic improvement“.

My question g) You quote from the conclusions of the second panel  – a panel that seems quite content with a mass destruction of trees and buildings. Firstly ‘a fantastic improvement’ on what? The Community Vision? An unseen design? Secondly “overall change of scale, removal of buildings and redesign to the Melton Hill streetscape” – are these in context of the Community vision or from a second unseen design?

Thirdly, who uttered these words? The people of Woodbridge absolutely need chapter and verse on the origin and relevance of every part of the last 22 word sentence, phrased so conveniently  in the passive voice. If it is a quote, somebody said it – and we need to know who and in what context. Such destructive decision-makers need to be named (– and if happy with their decision will have no problem with being so named)!

I await your speedy reply  with interest

I received a telephone call a few days later from the gentleman in question, who was eager to tell me that a) he could tell me about the destination of the Drummer Boy (not, note, a question I had asked); b) none of this was his personal responsibility and c) there was going to be affordable housing in the development but that as d) he was down in Winchester he would not be able to answer my full list of written questions in written form very fast, certainly not for several weeks.

In the interests of transparency we need to know the answers to all these questions.

I have therefore included them as “unanswered’ in my submission to the District Council.