Tag Archives: development

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

Proposed Gladman development on Woodbridge fringe

I have written with the significant concerns I have regarding the outline planning application proposed for the land east of Bridge Farm, Top Street, Martlesham –  the impact of which would fall within the Woodbridge division.

While we all  recognise the desperate  need for affordable housing in oue area, I would be very concerned if permission for this particular development were to go ahead  (particularly as the proposed development of 2000 houses at Martlesham  Adastral Park still remains under consideration).

Apart from the fact that this is the last piece of greenfield separating Woodbridge from Martlesham  – a fact which holds great significance for both communities – my principal concerns deal with  transport:

  • The application proposes vehicular access.  Proposed access  for residents’ cars is onto
    i) a narrow uphill section of Top Street  just after a railway bridge and
    ii) a wider, but heavily used and equally uphill section of B1438 (here called Ipswich Road ) which is heavily used, being  the main access road through Woodbridge.
    Neither seem to be adequate or appropriate exits onto the roads in question. There appear to be no other viable options.
  • Sandy Lane Gladman plan detailThe  ‘proposed  public open space footpath route’  as labelled on the Gladman  plan (see left – click to enlarge: an open corridor that leads from Sandy Lane, at a place that has no pavement towards Woodbridge  or  ongoing footpath without a risky walk around a blind bend under the railway bridge, to a part of Top Street which has no pavement or ongoing footpath) is misleading. It is in fact the corridor through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routed. And on which restrictive covenants will remain in place afterwards preventing building and planting (further details here  )  This is therefore not a ‘proposed  public open space footpath route’ but a guaranteed  space along which it is not possible to build or plant, which leads to nowhere substantive – and for which any developer needs to find an explanation.
  • I do not know what the planning guidance is on EMFs (Electro magnetic fields) and health when planning a new development – particularly one housing young families, and most particularly when there is a proposed children’s play area right next to buried high voltage lines?  The location causes me considerable disquiet.
  • Planning development with affordable housing will help house  young families who cannot afford local prices. Sadly this development would not encourage children to walk to school or socialise  in Woodbridge,  or indeed encourage any residents to walk to Woodbridge, or young parents with buggies to walk anywhere  as the ‘footpath’ debouches onto two pieces of road without footways.  If the primary catchment is Kyson (as Kyson’s catchment map suggests) there will be no safe means to walk to the school, unless a crossing is built across the Ipswich Road. Apart from expense, this which would cause congestion and possible  accidents in rush hour as the B1438 is the principal exit route for Woodbridge commuters.
    However, without a crossing, the County Council will potentially face a large and ongoing bill for education transport on ‘safety of the route’ grounds.
    The other great need for affordable housing is amongst the  older downsizers. These may often have the same requirements for pedestrian access as young families. And again these are not met.

In short, if a housing development – and specifically one with a significant affordable element – is proposed, it needs to be placed where  it is safe and convenient for people to live and where they find safe and convenient ways to get to work, to education and to socialise. The location of this proposed development does not  provide for this

Whats been happening – November to December

Restored Sunday bus goes from strength to strength! Having finally got the 65b service back in July, after years when Woodbridge residents were cut off from any Sunday or holiday bus transport whatsoever (including getting to Ipswich hospital for visiting, A&E and minor injuries!) We were told – quite fairly–  ‘use it, or lose it’  Woodbridge residents have risen magnificently to the challenge  – and as a direct result  the 65b will not only be retained at least until March but will also now run 5 times a day in each direction from January, and the service has been extended out to Melton.  Again, we must continue to remember that it’s a case of use it or lose it – so when shopping for Christmas, or in the sales – remember to take the Sunday bus!

Woodbridge Rail StationTicket Machines!  Sadly, the machine continues to be less than wholly fit for purpose. It spends much of its time out of order or malfunctioning, leaving many Woodbridge residents frustrated – either out of pocket, having had to pay twice for a ticket, or facing a penalty fine for a fare they have paid!  I have recently been contacted by a stream of people complaining about this problem , including overseas visitors who found  local travel very difficult and some residents who have told me  that their only option to this is making a 15 mile round trip to use the machines in Ipswich (as the Saxmundham ticket machine is often  also out of action).

Suffok Speed Limit Criteria  For some months now I have been part of the crossparty  policy development panel  working on developing a new  Speed Limit Criteria policy for Suffolk. SCC Cabinet will be seeking to approve this today. If approved, the  new policy aims  to ensure that speed  limits are applied fairly, and transparently across the county while reflecting  local concerns where appropriate  – and enabling local County Councillors to make representations on behalf of the communities they represent.

This would complement the new 20mph policy that  the same panel  (on which I also sat) developed  and which Cabinet approved earlier this year.

Suffok’s Education and Learning Infrastructure Plan  SCC is also developing Suffolks Education and Learning InfrastructurePlan. This is of particular interest to me as I have been arguing that there is insufficent bringing together of strategic issues  locally.  The  coverage of the  future eduction situation in  Woodbridge is not wholly encouraging:


Woodbridge/Melton
Issue: Potential housing of up to 500 houses in the  longer term
Solution: Investigate local primary provision in the area to ensure capacity is available or local schools are able to expland to accommodate growth. Also ensure that local secondary provision, already at capacity, is able to expand as appropriate.”

I have asked for this  information to be expanded on, bearing in mind that Farlingaye, designed for 750  pupils, now accommodates around 2000 and that the the physical impossibility of moving this number around the corridors has caused lessons to be reduced to 3 a day for the last 8 years. I understood that these  developments aren’t seen as enough to fund a further school, but query what further expansion  might be humanly possible in the circumstances!

I also want to understand why the strategic  issues of Farlingaye are siloed within Woodbridge/Melton when it has a catchment area of 400 square miles including, for example Rendlesham (where I see further development is also indicated).

Additionally, strategic development of schools seems to stop at the buildings themselves and does not consider the impact on local roads.

Warwick Avenue:  That  long-awaited resurfacing of Warwick Avenue is delayed again –  until March 2015 – but this time there is an excuse! I have been lobbying for this seriously overdue and much-needed repair work for years, and  am very glad that it  is finally going ahead. The repairs had been planned for the end of 2014, but when cores were taken from the concrete slabs that make up the road, it was discovered that they had metal reinforcement, making hopes of using an in-situ recycling technique impossible.  I am now told that the SCC contractors, KMG, will be bringing in a specialist surfacing  contractor to remove any asphalt on the slabs, repair the slab joints and lay high density asphalt overlay.

Let us hope this will finally and at long last provide the reliable and stable road surface that Warwick Avenue residents deserve – and for which they have been waiting for such an unreasonably long time!”

County Councillor Surgeries  My  monthly walk-in surgeries continue to be very successful and well-attended. In October I discovered 14 people waiting for me when I opened.  The final Surgery of the year will take place on 20December 2014 10-12 in the library as ever.

Dates for the early part of 2015 will be: 17 January, 21 February. 21 March and 18 April.

Finally,

Happy Christmas and all good wishes for a peaceful New Year!

What has been happening in Suffolk : September/October

Woodbridge Youth Centre: future

You may remember that  I reported in March 2013   http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/03/12/woodbridge-youth-centre-saved-from-the-dragons-den/ that I had come across moves by various unelected officers at SCC and SCDC to organise the disposal of Woodbridge Youth Centre and sell off the land to the north of the Avenue for development,  without reference to either Woodbridge Town council, or the people of Woodbridge.

At the time, I took this to the highest level and was promised by the SCC CEO Deborah Cadman that any discussion about its long-term future will involve all stakeholders including the people of Woodbridge and our elected councillors.  I was also given to understand that Woodbridge Youth Centre was ‘safe’ and a ten year lease was being proposed.

However last week,  only 18 months later  I was asked to attend a preliminary meeting with SCC officers from resource management and a single elected member who manages to be both SCC deputy cabinet member for Resource Management and SCDC Cabinet member for Resource Management.  The subject they wished to address was the ‘mid-term’ future of the Woodbridge Youth Centre, and the fact that repairs of (max £200,000) being too much, they were looking  to ‘develop solutions.’

Interestingly,  I found  little interest in any other solution than sale of the land and removal of the occupants of the centre elsewhere.

I insisted in including other options – such as raising the money for repair and putting in a bid for the premises (and having them minuted too).

At the first meeting there were no representatives for Woodbridge Town Council, for SCC’s CYP, for the Integrated Youth Service,  or indeed, apart from myself,  any of the local people with an interest in the Youth Centre, in the demographics of Woodbridge or the young people of Woodbridge.

I therefore  asked that subsequent meetings should have representatives of these organisations attending.  I have also said that this issue needs to be brought into the consideration of the Neighbourhood plan, in terms of development, of youth provision, of green spaces and of demographics.

Development proposal: Woodbridge Football Club site

The 25 year lease on Woodbridge Town football club runs out shortly and Hopkins Homes has announced proposals to develop the currently occupied by the club for approximately 95 houses, including affordable housing, a community building and open space. Proposals are that the club itself would move to a Yarmouth Road site at Ufford, meaning that Woodbridge will lose its football club from the town itself, very much as it has already lost its rugby club.

As usual, this will have an adverse impact on young people who do not have access  to cars.

Woodbridge Town FC will be voting on this move at an Extraordinary General Meeting shortly.

As I understand it, if the football club votes to stay at the site it would be able to do so for another ten years. However it loses the chance to have another venue found for it, another clubhouse purpose-built for it  –  and would have to start paying a ‘market rent’ for the site.

There is currently a full public consultation about the planning proposals for the site in advance of an expected planning application by Hopkins Homes in the autumn. I am already having contact from residents with concerns about road access to the proposed development.

Suffolk 1: Students enrolled on the Foundation Learning course

Last year it seemed as if the future of 5 day teaching for Foundation level students at Suffolk 1 was threatened. After some negotiation, all students enrolled in Foundation Learning courses will return to a 5 day week from early October and this will continue for the entire academic year 2014-15. This will be a transitional arrangement. There will be a meeting on 18 November 2014  for  parents and carers  to discuss  what the arrangements will be from 2015.

0345 numbers for Suffolk County Council

From the end of September, the county council is changing all of its 0845 telephone numbers to 0345. The remaining seven digits of the telephone numbers will remain exactly the same. This includes the telephone numbers for people wanting to apply for a school place for their child, reporting a pothole or road defect and the Families Information Service.

Calls to 0345 numbers from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages. For customers with these packages,  it will mean calling the council on these numbers, does not incur any additional costs. For people not on free call packages, a  call to a 0345 number costs no more than a geographical number (eg. 01284, 01787 and 01473).

However, existing 0845 numbers will not be switched off overnight. There will be a period of time where the 0845 number, and its replacement 0345 number, will both be live. This is to ensure people can still access the services they need whilst getting used to the new numbers. It will also mean the county council only replaces printed materials and liveries when current stocks run out.

All Freephone numbers starting 0800 will also remain unchanged.

October surgery

My surgery will be held this Saturday, 10 – 12 midday at Woodbridge library  as usual.

 

Dukes Park and East Anglia ONE

My inbox has been buzzing with anxious emails this week  from people worried about a possible planning application for land adjoining Dukes Park. Although planning is a District Council issue it is in Woodbridge County division,and  is  also the site through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routed. As this appeared to have slipped under the radar of both residents and district council until I raised it last Monday,  I contacted the EA ONE  link officer at Suffolk County Council. I wanted to know if he had definitive information on the separation necessary between  housing development and underground high tension cables. closeup EA1

Here is his brief resume of the status quo and implications as he sees it:

East Anglia ONE have acquired both permanent and temporary rights for land within the Order Limits (red line boundary). The exact location of these rights however would not be determined until the project is being built, because the final positioning of the cables is not known. What we know now is that the corridor depicted on the plans is generally 75m wide though only 55m is needed for construction and this could lie anywhere within the 75m swathe. The final footprint for the operational development will be 42m The rights that have been acquired are set out within Schedule 6 of the Development Consent Order  . The permanent rights within the cable corridor generally provide for the retention of cables/ducts together with a surface right of access for occasional maintenance. Lands subject to temporary rights (i.e the ‘surplus’ 33m) would be returned to the current owner post construction (that is, around 2020). However as the SCC link officer understands it:

“…restrictive covenants are also in place. Activities within the Order Limits are prohibited as below. The footprint of the land these rights cover would diminish from the construction (75m) to operational phase (42m), but as I understand it apply to the full 75m currently: (a) prevent anything to be done in or upon the Order land or any part thereof for the purpose of the erection of any buildings or construction erection or works of any kind (including the foundations or footings thereto); (b) prevent anything to be done by way of hard surfacing of the Order land with concrete of any kind or with any other material or surface whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed if the proposed surfacing would not cause damage to relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to maintain the authorised project); (c) prevent anything to be done by way of excavation of any kind in the Order land nor any activities which increase or decrease ground cover or soil levels in any manner whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker save as are reasonably required for agricultural activities or are required to be carried out by National Grid in order to exercise their rights in relation to their apparatus within the Order land; (d) prevent the planting or growing within the Order land of any trees, shrubs or underwood without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed provided that the proposed trees, shrubs or underwood would not cause damage to the relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to access the relevant part of the authorised project). Consequently very little can happen within the area covered by the Order Limits at the moment. The extent of that redline boundary will shrink in due course, but even in that remaining area, no buildings could erected.”

The officer points out that land outside the Order Limits, and any land used during construction once returned to its original owner is not subject to any East Anglia ONE restrictive covenants. However it would be  on each side of the cabling  area. Requests for any further specific elucidation  are probably best directed to:

Joanna Young,  Stakeholder Manager ScottishPower Renewables East Anglia Offshore Wind, Room 101, OrbisEnergy, Wilde Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 1XH. jyoung@scottishpower.com