SAFE – Supporters Against Fressingfield Expansion

Breaking News

Fressingfield Flooding and Sewage -Action

SAFE has become increasingly concerned with flooding and the egress of foul sewage because of our fragile infrastructure in Fressingfield and the potential impact major developments will have upon it.

After the recent four episodes of sewage egress and flooding in an 8 week period SAFE has been actively communicating with many relevant Agencies. The dialogue continues and many of these are interactive and hopefully will produce some positive results. The agencies involved are:

Anglian Water ( CEO and various departments); Suffolk County Council ( Flood Management , Public Health; Flood Reporting); Mid Suffolk District Council ( Planning, Environmental Health);  Public Health England; The Environment Agency; Suffolk Wildlife; The Water Council.

All of the above have been very helpful and we hope for positive results as the dialogue continues.


Again! More Sewerage and Flooding in Fressingfield

On Wednesday 27th November 2019 there was again sewerage egress from manhole covers in Low Road. At least 4 manhole covers were leaking . One of the cover s had been recently repaired and modified because of previous leakages, but his has not cured the problem.

Egress started at 7.30am and continued until dark. Contaminated material was around one cover and flowed along the road. Sewage flowed into the Beck at several points. In the afternoon a team from Anglian Water attended to inspect the problems. They reported that the pumping station was working well .

As with the episode on 14th November  the rain was continuous, but not especially heavy. This is of concern as previously it was believed that sudden torrential heavy downpours were responsible for  overwhelming the sewers, not normal persistent rain.

On this occasion the Beck overtopped in two places, particularly where the Beck enters a culvert.

We immediately  informed Anglian Water  and the Environment Agency of this event and other Agencies subsequently.

This is the fourth time in the last 2 months that sewage egress has occurred in Low Road and is the 8th time in 2 years.

J.E.C. 27 / 11 /19


Parish Council Meeting  19th November 2019 -Anglian Water Progress Report.

SAFE  had two representatives at the meeting and requested an opportunity to  read a brief report correcting the erroneous statements made on the Parish Council web site concerning ” Surface Water and Drainage issues”. Two specific serious errors were the assertion that the sewers are “greywater” sewers ( containing bath & washing machine water etc), which they are not. They contain the outflows from the loos and are therefore foul sewers. Secondly the tying of 1 in 50 year rainfall event to the sewer overflow and flooding. This was very misleading  thereby downplaying the frequency of these events. We have had 8 outflows of sewage in under two years, three in a recent six week period. The SAFE report was partially read out, but the Chair would only allow 2 minutes which did not give sufficient time for the short report to be read in its entirety.

Nigel Minter from Anglian Water provided a verbal progress report concerning investigations as to the cause of flooding and egress of sewage at times of heavy rainfall.

The area around New Street has been visually inspected and a number of houses have been found to have their rainwater connected to the foul sewer system. This is not illegal and no Authority has any powers to make a home owner divert their surface water to soak aways. Anglian Water will have completed their initial investigations by mid December.

Nigel reported that of the 531 Anglian Water clients in Fressingfield  352 are billed for combined foul and surface water drainage. ( a rebate is available to those who manage their own surface water). Some people could be paying for surface water drainage  while they do not use it, but these numbers are unknown. Certainly a large number of properties do discharge rain water to the foul sewer. He confirmed that the sewers were foul sewers, not ” greywater ” sewers.

A member of the public pointed out there was a serious and ongoing issue of flooding in New Street. Suffolk Highways have confirmed to him that work needs to be done to correct the road drainage, but there is no money for this in neither this year, nor next year’s budget.

A SAFE member asked the Chair to confirm that the Parish Council would not recommend the approval of new Planning Applications until such time as Anglian had implemented remedial  works to prevent the egress of sewage. More foul water emanating from new housing will use up more capacity in the sewer and leave less space for surface water , thereby increasing the frequency and serious nature of  the flooding/ sewage egress. This is an argument which was fully accepted by Mid Suffolk when considering the three major Applications in November 2018. The Chair refused to accept this argument which SAFE believe to be a completely robust and defensible . The refusal by the Parish to accept this leaves villagers exposed to increased levels of pollution  and health risk.

P.E.C. 24.11.19


More sewage in Low Road

On Thursday 14th November 2019 there was again sewage flowing out of 2 manhole covers in Low Road.  This is the eighth time this has  happened in under 2 years.  On this occasion there was only moderate rainfall. The sewage flowed into the Beck and was therefore polluting a water course.

We have informed the Environment Agency and Anglian Water, and as a result a field engineer from Anglian Water has visited.”

Letter sent to Peter Simpson, CEO of Anglian Water

Letter in full below, with meeting notes following. Also available as a PDF by clicking here

Dear Mr. Simpson,

Planning Applications in Fressingfield and the position of Anglian Water

On 4 September 2018 I wrote to you about the sewerage problems in Fressingfield and you very kindly facilitated a meeting with your representatives, LPA and ourselves which took place on 12 October 2018. The meeting was very helpful in allowing me to gain an understanding of the issues, but failed suggest a solution to the problems. ( notes of the meeting attached)

Flooding and sewage are very serious issues in Fressingfield and of great concern to villagers. They affect the quality of life and create health issues, which have been brought to the attention of Public Health England by Suffolk’s Director of Public Health.

There are two discrete but linked issues. Firstly surface water flooding, and secondly the egress of sewage onto the highways and into gardens. The latest incidence of flooding and sewage egress was on 1st October 2019 when 5 sewer covers were elevated. There was sufficient serious contamination for your Company to send a “clean up ” team.

History of Flooding and sewage egress

I recognise that whilst flooding is not the responsibility of Anglian Water it does impact on the sewerage in Fressingfield. We believe significant flooding is under reported. We know that it occurred four times in five months between 22 December 2017 and 24 April 2018. In addition to the recent event. It is a long standing problem and has occurred over a number of years (see SAFE web site fressingfieldhousing.org “Low Road Historical Flooding”) where representative flood pictures are shown at 20 year intervals. This is not only a problem in winter, but also occurs in summer (12 July 2016.) Flooding is caused by 3 factors, the overtopping of the Beck, the excessive surface water running down from the high point to the low point of the village in Low Road and the sewerage manholes being raised.

The sewerage was planned in the late 1930s and building was delayed because of the war and was finally completed in 1946. Details of the sewerage problems can be found in the lobbying section of the SAFE web site fressingfieldhousing.org where there are many detailed papers.

The design of the system is well documented. Sewage from the current Post Mill development is pumped uphill to New Street and continues to Church Hill, down to Low Road (150mm pipe) where it joins, at the War Memorial, another 150mm pipe coming across the fields from the John Shepherd development. The two pipes then join and form a single 225mm pipe which runs 200 yards to the pumping station and continues along the Weybread Straight to the treatment plant in One Eyed Lane.

In Low Road, at times of heavy rainfall the sewerage manhole covers lift and raw sewage and sanitary products go over the road and into gardens and also runs back into the stream (the Beck) to be dissipated further.

This is a long standing problem. There exists correspondence in 1985 between our then MP, Michael Lord and the then Anglian Water CEO Peter Bray. The Chief Environmental Health Officer was also involved. It has variously been suggested that pump malfunction and failure to desludge the system was the cause. However, sewage egress has occurred following work to correct these problems, indicating they are not the cause.

020418
Sewage overflowing during flooding in Low Road 02/04/18

The problem is becoming more common and more severe. The contamination has been so severe on occasions that Anglian Water has sent a “Clean Up Team “, including the incident which occurred on 1st October 2019. The rain on this occasion was so torrential and the flooding so sudden that water butts would have had no effect on the flooding in the village. The volume of water was so great it would have been impossible to ameliorated the effect.

Abdul Razaq, Director of Public Health and Protection, Suffolk County Council, has been involved and wrote on 11th May 2018.

“Thank you for your emails. I would agree that the situation relating to sewage leaks is not acceptable and unpleasant. The legal powers sit with the environmental health departments and so I have ensured that Mid Suffolk District Council know of your concerns, but from your email it seems both they and the water company are fully aware of the situation. I have informed Public Health England of the situation although they are advisory only and have no legal powers.

If sewage leakage does occur I am sure that you realise that it is important to avoid exposure and if exposure does occur scrupulous personal hygiene is essential”

Because the sewage egress flows into the Beck it is further disseminated and has other impacts. Effect on wildlife may also have occurred (Dr. James Meyer- Suffolk Wildlife). It is noted that water voles have not been seen in the Beck after the latest sewage ingress. We have reported this to the Environment Agency as pollution of a water course.

The Cause

At the meeting held last October with your representatives the cause of the sewage egress was finally understood. When there are high volumes the pressure in the pipe coming downhill from the John Shepherd development is greater than the connection from Low Road because of gravity. This results in back pressure on the sewer in Low Road causing the manholes to “pop”. The functional capacity is also unable to cope of times of heavy rainfall for reasons to be discussed.

Detailed investigations by your staff have confirmed there is no ingress of general rain water into the closed system. It is believed that the sewer is overloaded at times of heavy rainfall due to dwellings discharging their surface water directly into the foul sewer. When this happens the manholes lift . I understand that historical connections of surface water directly to the foul sewer are not illegal and no resident can be forced to remove the connection. No one has any idea how many houses are connected. Your representatives explained that the problem cannot be solved by increasing the diameter of the pipe work because it would reduce flows in “normal” conditions to such a level as to increase smells and blockages. Should the manholes be sealed to prevent egress then there would be backflow of sewage into peoples’ toilets and wash basins. I understand that Anglian Water are not funded to invest in laying “storm pipes” for storm only events.

It seems that the basic capacity of the sewer is satisfactory, but that the functional capacity at times of heavy rainfall is not, because a large amount of capacity is taken up by surface water. At the meeting no solution to this problem was presented. The real issue for the village is that more houses will take up capacity in the sewer leaving less capacity for the surface water making the “tipping point “for egress of sewage lower. I.e. there would be less capacity for surface water than at present. The percentage of sewage in the leaking manhole effluent will also be greater. ie more concentrated

Flooding and the egress of sewage onto the public roads and into private gardens within Fressingfield are serious and unsavoury. These problems will be exacerbated by climate change.

This represents a serious deficiency in the infrastructure in Fressingfield and one, at this point seems incapable of any remedial action. As summed up by the Planning Officer in his report to the Planning Committee on deciding upon Applications 1432/17, 1449/17 and 1648/17, ‘the pollution of parts of the village and the Beck, however occasional, with raw sewage, sanitary products and toilet paper is unacceptable pollution that will only worsen with significant levels of new development connecting to the Fressingfield foul water system. As it becomes increasingly common to experience extreme weather conditions in the UK it seems ridiculous and completely unacceptable to expect local people to endure what at times looks and smells like a medieval living environment.’

Anglian Water ‘s Current Position on Planning Applications in Fressingfield.

There is some confusion in my mind as we have been repeatedly been told there that there is only one sewer in Fressingfield and that Anglian Water’s statutory responsibility relates to the sewerage and have no role in Flood Risk Assessment . In response to Application 3872/16 – Land at School Lane, Anglian Water have approved an attenuated discharge of surface water into an “Anglian Water surface Water sewer. ” This discharge will , we presume ultimately discharge to the Beck . If this is so Anglian Water do have a role in surface water management which is very relevant to flooding issues in Fressingfield.

Recently an Application for 24 houses at Post Mill Lane was unanimously rejected by the Local Planning Authority . A main plank of the Planning Officer’s Report ( as identified above ) centred on the problems around flooding and sewage egress. The Applicant Appealed the decision (App/W3520/W/19/3227159). The Appeal was rejected, but the flooding and sewerage issues formed no part of the grounds for rejection. In Paragraph 30 of his Report the Inspector stated “Anglian Water raises no objections to the proposal subject to a condition requiring compliance with the agreed drainage strategy. This response from the relevant authority confirms that the development would not cause harm to the capacity of the sewer, and I have no reason to take a different view from their professional advice.

I think we have a real paradox here. Your Company is taking a purist view that their sewerage in Fressingfield is fit for purpose and there is capacity within the system, in this case to accommodate a further 24 houses in terms of foul drainage. Undoubtedly this is a point of fact and is true under normal circumstances. The fact that in times of heavy rainfall there is not sufficient capacity is not seen as an issue for your Company as the domestic surface water connections to the foul closed system should not be there.!! The reality of the situation is that the surface water connections (number unknown) are there. There is no mechanism or budget for removing them. The villagers therefore are faced with a real dilemma as Anglian Water, unless they take a policy decision, will continue to approve Applications in Fressingfield in the knowledge that this will increase the incidence of sewage egress. Whilst the Local Planning Authority fully recognised the argument the Inspector did not leaving the village very exposed in terms of future Applications.

I am sure that you appreciate the issues. I think the latest incident on 1 October really highlighted the need for me to do something, hence this letter. The contamination really was unacceptable with sanitary products floating in the flood water along the road and trapped in the manhole covers. I know that your member of staff who came to clean this up next day took a number of photos , which I am sure will confirm that I am not exaggerating . I have a large number of photos and a video of the incident itself should any of your staff wish to see them.

I would be very grateful if you could review your position when responding to Planning Applications in Fressingfield in the light of the arguments presented in this letter. I strongly believe that Applications should only be approved there is local a ” on-site ” facility for treating sewage ie a septic tank or similar and Applications from Fressingfield should be assessed by those who are aware of the conditions that exist in this village.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. John Castro

ADENDUM

Since writing this a further episode of severe egress of sewage and flooding occurred in Low Road/ Cratfield Road. On 6th October2019 egress of sewage started at 9am and was still continuing at dark. Seven manhole covers were leaking sewage and the contamination with biological and sanitary material was the worst we have seen.

Contaminated water flowed back into the Beck to be dissipated further.

Below are some photographs of today’s events.

Notes of an Informal Meeting held on 12th October 2018 to discuss Sewerage Issues with Anglian Water

Present 

From Anglian Water

Luke Crump

Hannah Wilson

Nigel Minter

Grant Tuffs

From MSDC

Lavinia Hadingham

Vincent Pearce

From SAFE

John Kelsall

Elizabeth Manero

John and Pam Castro

Introduction

John Castro welcomed those present and stated that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss sewerage issues and to gain a better understanding of Anglian’s position in addressing those issues. His note of the 3rd September ( copied to all ) would form the basis of the discussion.

John C explained his understanding of the sewerage system, which is generally correct. It was pointed out that the two 150mms pipe connect at the War Memorial into a single 225mms pipe. Agreed that the pressure in the pipe coming downhill from John Shepherd would be greater than the connection from Low Road due to gravity. John C was concerned that this could result in back pressure on the sewer in Low Road causing the manholes to “pop.”

There are two areas of “small surface water sewers ” (conduits)which ultimately discharge into the Beck. They have no connection to the foul sewerage. This fact had not been appreciated by SAFE members, who had understood that there was only one sewer.

Noted that because of the topography surface water runs down the four hills( Church Hill; Buckingham Hill; Back Street; Harleston Hill) to the Beck in Low Road. The soil in Fressingfield has low permeability.

Why do we have egress of sewage in Low Road?

Detailed investigations had been undertaken by Anglian and there is no ingress of rainwater water into the closed system. It is believed that the sewer is overloaded at times of heavy rainfall due to dwellings discharging their surface water directly to the sewer. When this happens the manholes lift.( five times in the last year). Historical connections of surface water directly to the foul sewer are not illegal and no resident can be forced to remove the connection. No one has any idea how many houses are connected. The problem cannot easily be solved as to increase the diameter of the pipe work would reduce flows in “normal” conditions to such a level as to increase smells. Should the manholes be sealed then there would be backflow of sewage into people’s properties. Anglian Water are not funded to invest in laying ” storm pipes” for a storm only events. Anglian stated that under normal conditions only 50% of the sewerage network was currently used. Which disagrees with the SAFE assessment. There was agreement that the egress of sewerage relates exclusively to periods of heavy rainfall and the Beck need not flood for this to occur. The problem is that when it does flood effluent enters the water course. The point was made that there is no deliverable solution and the egress of sewage may continue. John Kelsall highlighted the fact that with the potential for more houses to be connected to the sewer then more of the spare capacity would be utilised within the sewer making the “tipping point” for egress of sewage lower. ie. there would be less capacity for surface water than at present.

Bill Abatements

Unknown how many households have bill abatements for not discharging surface water to the sewer. This cannot therefore be utilised for modelling purposes.

New Properties with surface water connected to Sewer

New properties are not permitted to connect surface water to the sewer , but for developments under 10 houses Anglian Water are not involved. Vincent stated that the Building Regulations would prohibit connections of the surface water drainage to the sewer, but it was pointed out that it is impossible to say that this never happens. ( Please see foot note )

The Chapel Scheme(3872/16 )

Confirmed that this scheme discharges to a “surface Water Sewer” and ultimately to the Beck at an agreed attenuated rate.

The Three outstanding Applications

Hannah confirmed that none of the major Applications would discharge surface water into the used(foul) water sewer, but all three would ultimately be discharging surface water to the Beck. SAFE believe that this will increase the risk of more flooding.

Desk Top Modelling

Luke explained how the computer modelling worked. SAFE were concerned as to how robust such modelling is. Without knowing the amount of rain water entering the system it is impossible to know the starting point in terms of capacity. The models did not feed in exceptional storm events.

Revised Site Layouts

It was asked whether revised drainage strategies should be prepared if site layouts changed. For example, in the case of Stradbroke Road there is now more hard landscaping. Hannah reported that if the developer makes amendments to the onsite design, reducing permeability of the site, the developer would need to construct additional on site attenuation and still only discharge at the agreed rate. Concern was expressed by SAFE over this approach ” a paddock will not have the same run off rates as a car park.”

Issues around Flooding

Whilst accepting this area is not directly the responsibility of Anglian they do work with local Flood leads and model 1:30 year events using predictions from the Met Office. The model which Anglian Water uses is an industry wide standard model agreed by other agencies including the Environment Agency. Vincent reported that the Environment Agency were now using 1:1000 year event modelling.

It was noted that residents in Low Road had had difficulty in obtaining house insurance as the area has been designated as a flood zone.

SAFE is also concerned over the proposed attenuation restricting flows from the new developments to the water course. In times of heavy rainfall flooding to the new developments would be mitigated, but the flows, if excessive could overcome the systems and excess water flow to the Beck, causing off site flooding, contrary to NPPF.

Environmental Information Request

Grant apologised for the delay in response and for the fact that some of the information was incomplete and not totally accurate.

There was confusion in respect of data collection. Nigel confirmed that records for day to day incidents have been recorded since 2011. The Environment Agency(EA) has collected data since 1997, BUT for an incident to show on the EA records it has to meet certain criteria as to the level of pollution. For example whilst the incident in April 2018 was submitted it has not been placed on the EA list of incidents. Since 2011 Anglian Water have reported five incidents in Fressingfield to the EA. Anglian Water are dependent on Fressingfield residents to report incidents. Only 2 of the 4 incidents this year were reported to Anglian.

Elizabeth drew attention to an email from the EA stating that Anglian Water should take steps to reduce the amount of surface water going to the sewer and that they would be discussing the pollution issues in Fressingfield with Anglian . None of the Anglian representatives were aware of any approach from the EA and agreed to follow this up.

Anglian have no powers to require residents to remove their surface drainage connections from the foul sewer and do not have any power to object to a Planning Application nor can they prevent a connection to the foul sewer from taking place. Anglian’s legal position is understood. It must be recognised that there are risks in accepting a system that will be under greater strain at a time of heavy rainfall. Vincent recognised Anglian Water’s legal position in the consultation process and suggested that he write to Hannah with specific questions on which he required answers. Hannah confirmed that Anglian would be in a position to respond to the specific questions relating to the Planning Applications.

Key Messages

-It is highly likely that the egress of sewage is due to overload of the system at times of heavy rainfall because of historical connections of surface water to the foul sewer.

– There is NO obvious deliverable solution, therefore egress of sewage in Low Road will continue in the future, regardless as to whether there is further development.

-Site topography and the fact that the Post Mill , Stradbroke Road, and John Shepherd Road all ultimately discharge surface water to the Beck which must increase the risk of flooding in Low Road.

It is important that the relevant authorities maintain the Beck to keep it clear.

– There has been serious under reporting of incidents by residents. Anglian Water assessment can only take account of the known issues.

-More houses will increase the volume of effluent in the sewer decreasing the spare capacity for rain water thereby increasing the risk of sewage egress in Low Road. This is contrary to the NPPF and Anglian’s policy of not causing disadvantage to existing customers.

Anglian will respond to written questions by the Principal Planning Officer on this issue.
PEC 25/10/2018
Foot Note

Anglian Water Amendment

New Properties with surface Water Connected to the Sewer

New properties are only permitted to connect surface water to the foul sewer network if all other methods of surface water discharge have proven to be non-viable, but for developments under 10 houses Anglian Water do not normally make comment unless requested to do so by a customer or an LPA case officer. Vincent stated that the Building Regulations would prohibit connection of the surface water drainage to the sewer, but it was pointed out that it is impossible to say that this never happens.

Health Precautions After  Sewage Egress.

During episodes of sewage egress in Fressingfield some people, including children, were seen walking in the contaminated water.  On 11 April 2018 the previous Director for Public Health and Protection for Suffolk County Council made the following statement as to what action should be taken following the egress of sewage  :-

  • Keep children and pets away from the flooded areas.
  • Wash children’s hands frequently- particularly after playing outdoors and always before meals.
  • Wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves if you’re cleaning up and cover up any cuts and grazes.
  • Food which may have been in contact with flood water should be thrown away.
  • If you show any symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting after a flood, call your doctor straight away.
  • The Food Standards Agency advises people not to eat any food that has been touched or covered by floodwater or sewage. This includes advice not to eat any produce grown on an allotment or garden that has been flooded.

Environment Agency Contacted by SAFE

SAFE reported the incidents of flooding and sewage egress  on the 1st and 6th October to the Environment Agency. Additionally we sent photographs clearly showing the sewer overflowing directly into the Beck. These events have been logged on the Environment Agency reporting system for future reference.

Yolanda Rankin from the Agency has “contacted Anglian Water to get a better understanding of the history of the overflows in the area including investigations and plans for the future.”

It is important that any future episodes are reported.

Anglian Water

Following the floods reported below John Castro wrote a detailed report on flooding and sewage egress  on behalf of the SAFE group to Mr Peter Simpson,  CEO Of Anglian Water,  Mr Simpson has committed  to a full review on flooding and sewerage in Fressingfield

Flooding in the News

The two floods documented below are reported in the local press.

Diss Express 11 October 2019 – Page 5

East Anglian Daily Times 12 October 2019 – Page 19

Flooding and sewage egress continues in Fressingfield – AND AGAIN!

On 6th October 2019 there was further flooding and extensive egress of sewage into Low
Road and adjacent areas. This is only 5 days after the last episode. We understand there was flooding in other parts of the village.

On this occasion egress of sewage started at 9 am and continued until dark. Seven manhole covers were leaking sewage. Contamination with biological and sanitary material was the worst we have seen and was particularly bad opposite the Baptist Chapel, suggesting that that the sewerage is backing up towards the end point near the Old School.

Surface water flows from the upper part of the village with Church Hill and Back Road acting as conduits before mixing with the sewage water and then discharging into the Beck.

This has again been reported to the Environment Agency and Suffolk County Council.


Flooding and sewage egress continues in Fressingfield.

On 1st October we again had flooding in Low Road and also egress of sewage from some manholes.

The surface water flooding occurred despite Suffolk County Council Highways clearing the surface water drains 24 hours beforehand.

At least four manholes in Low Road had egress of sewage and sanitary products. This was spread over the road, into gardens and flowed into the Beck. It continued funtil into the night.

On this occasion the Beck did not over top and the surface water flooding was due to the water flowing from the higher part of the village down Church Hill and Back street and also from the sewer covers.

The next morning Anglian Water sent a clear up team to remove the offending debris. Inspection by them at this time showed that 5 sewer covers had been elevated. Considerable muddy debris was deposited at the Lower end of Church Hill and Low Road. Highways were informed. The incident was reported to the Environment Agency

Representative pictures of the incident are shown below.


Dawn Cavilla resigns from SAFE

Unfortunately Dawn Cavilla has resigned from SAFE for personal reasons. Dawn was a founder member and over the years has contributed in a most helpful way. We take this opportunity to thank her for everything. We wish her well for the future.


Post Mill Lane Appeal Decision

The Appeal decision has come in, and it has been dismissed. The appeal for costs has also been refused.

For more information, please click the links below to view the full reports:

Appeal Decision

Costs Decision

Site Location Plan


Three new important documents are now available for consultation:-

Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan. – 

Click here to view . Public Consultation closes on 30th September 2019.

SAFE has produce d a very detailed response – Click here to view

Fressingfield Neighbourhood Plan –

Click here to view. Public consultation closes on 27th September 2019.

SAFE have considered the revised Neighbourhood Development Plan which has now been formally submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council. Mid Suffolk are now inviting further comment as part of the consultation process.

The members of SAFE recognise the vast amount of work and thought that has gone into the production of the Plan and are grateful to the Working Group for this. It is good that many villagers took the opportunity to attend the open events and expressed their views to the Working Group.

SAFE members have some points of detail which we will be submitting to Mid Suffolk, but we do support the adoption of the Plan.

The Neighbourhood Development is important as, once adopted , it will be a statutory document and Mid Suffolk will be required to take note of the recommendations within the Plan. It is an important document in helping to ensure that speculative development is not approved. This document will only carry full legal weight once it is adopted. That is after the village votes on whether to approve the Plan in a referendum to take place in due course.

A New Planning Application for housing in School Lane -(DC/19/03513) – 

Click here to view. This new  Application reduces the number of houses in the previous Application from 18 to 12 and includes 7 bungalows. Public consultation has now closed.

SAFE has sent an objection which can be read here


Fressingfield in the Diss Express – 

“Development plans met with opposition but council’s support” To read the story, please click the link – This external link leads to the Diss Express website


MSDC Land Supply

Mid Suffolk District Council has published a new annual five-year housing land supply position statement which demonstrates a 5.66 year supply, alongside the Annual Monitoring Report. Both documents can be viewed on the link below.

https://www.midsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/evidence-base/annual-monitoring-report-amr/


Accidents continue in Fressingfield

In the centre of Fressingfield, two cars collided. There was significant damage to both cars, but fortunately no significant personal injury. On the Parish Council minutes of September 2019 it was reported that there was a near accident on the Laxfield road which could have caused injury to a cyclist’

War Memorial Accident 15.07.19

Three days before a vehicle damaged the side of a house close to Jubilee Corner by the Old Forge, causing damage to the structure.

Damage to House at Jubilee Corner 12.07.19

Recently railings along the Beck were damaged in Low Road close to the War Memorial.

Low Road Fence

Road Accidents Continue.

Only serious accidents with personal injury are logged by the Authorities. It is our view that other accidents are important and should be recorded. With increasing traffic and pedestrians these lesser accidents may become more serious. The roads in Fressingfield are dangerous. Recently another incident occurred at Jubilee Corner with a private car sustaining significant damage after being hit by a lorry.
Jubilee Corner 5th January 2019

Accidents continue. On the afternoon of February 27th, a villager with 2 passengers, also villagers, were stationary  and waiting to turn right into New Street from the Harleston Road. A truck heading towards Harleston from the Laxfield road struck the off side of their vehicle. There were no injuries but over £2000 of damage was caused to their vehicle.

Soon after this an articulated lorry tried to turn at the War Memorial and crossed the surrounding grass and damaged part of the sand container. Fortunately, the Memorial itself was not damaged.

It is important to record all traffic accidents in the village and damage to property. Any details can be sent to any SAFE members – listed under “members” on this web site. Photographs showing damage would be very helpful.

“Near misses could become serious with more traffic.”


Post Mill Appeal

An Appeal was lodged on 23/04/19 against the unanimous decision by MSDC in November to refuse Outline Planning Permission for the Post Mill development, Fressingfield (1648/17), Appeal number APP/W3520/W/19/3227159.

Mid Suffolk District Council Statement of Case – Prepared by Vincent Pearce is now available and can be viewed by clicking here

Click here to view the Appeal on the Planning Inspectorate Website: Planning Inspectorate – Post Mill Lane

The grounds for the Appeal can be accessed by clicking here: Appellant’s Statement of Case

More detailed information can be accessed on the Mid Suffolk Website here: Appeal Correspondence – Post Mill Lane

Final comments are now available:

MSDC Final Rebuttal

Appellant’s Final Comments

MSDC Rebuttal – Appellant’s Claim for Costs

Please encourage others to read this posting.

SAFE has already sent a letter to the Inspectorate and a copy is below:

SAFE Response – PDF


Members of SAFE have produced individual submissions to the Inspector:

Observations on the Post Mill Appeal

Appeal Examination Response

General Heritage Issues

General Implications for Post Mill Development

Comments on Transport and Road Safety Aspects of the Post Mill Lane Appeal

Sewerage & Flooding

Heritage Issues at Ladymede Cottage, New Street Fressingfield

This paper has not been written by a member of the SAFE team, but this issue was so important at the original Hearing that we feel it should be included 

Overview 

The following notes provide evidence of the impact that the proposed development will have on Ladymeade, a grade 2 listed building, in the following areas:

  • natural and historic environment
  • village infrastructure, services and amenities
  • traffic and road safety

Natural and historic environment: 

  • Ladymeade Cottage is one of a number of important listed buildings in Fressingfield. A survey by an architectural historian described it as ‘an unusually well-preserved timber-framed house of the late 16th century that contains a number of historically interesting features, including original window mullions and a rare solid-tread stair.’ Building new properties on an ancient meadow in close proximity to this historically important building is detrimental to the environment of the house itself and to the village of Fressingfield.
  • In summer 2015, when the current owner acquired the meadow, the trees and undergrowth were cleared with total disregard for wildlife habitats. We no longer see the endangered turtle doves, which had been frequent visitors. In the intervening years, with some regrowth of scrub, we have seen barn owls, songbirds, field mice, deer and grass snakes around the meadow. This is an important habitat which will be destroyed by the proposed development.
  • The plans show a footpath on a ‘right of way’ leading between the proposed development and New Street. This is incorrect. No ownership has been established for this strip of land. We accept there is a right of access to the meadow for its owner, but it is not a public right of way.
  • The use of this access will, according to the proposed plans, be open not just to the residents of the houses built on the meadow but to all 24 houses, and the existing houses on Post Mill Lane. This raises considerable concerns for us about privacy, security and liability. We consider that the pedestrian egress from the proposed ‘footpath’ on to New Street is highly dangerous as it is on a slight bend in the road with totally restricted visibility. As shown in the photograph below it is necessary to actually be standing in the road to see approaching traffic.
  • As a point of information, we have sales particulars dating from 1905, which indicate that the right of way to the meadow was originally intended to run between West Cottage and Mount Pleasant, not between East Cottage and Ladymeade.

Village infrastructure: 

  • Drainage and sewerage is a major concern. Twice in June 2018 the main drains blocked under the road in New Street outside Ladymeade. We were forced to move out temporarily as waste had backed up and our toilets were unusable. When Anglian Water came to clear them we were told it was due to build up of household waste and wet wipes. We believe any increase in the number of houses will put further strain on the capacity of the sewerage system.
  • In the north east corner of our garden is a pond. Surplus ground water from the road flows into this, which then drains away into a ditch system in the meadow behind Ladymeade Cottage. We would be concerned that the proposed development could result in more use or blockage of this ditch drainage system, causing significant flooding in our garden, possibly backing up into New Street.
  • As a point of information, maps show the pond as being within the meadow. This is incorrect as the pond clearly lies within the boundary of Ladymeade.

Traffic and Road Safety

  • Currently traffic is a considerable problem on New Street immediately outside Ladymeade. Scout groups using Goodwins Hall park there, causing congestion. If/when the scout groups move to their new HQ, the parking issue will lessen but there will be increased traffic along this stretch of road. There is limited visibility and no pavement along this stretch of New Street. We feel this raises considerable safety issues.
Footpath Exit
Egress from proposed footpath to New Street showing that it is necessary to be on the road to see approaching traffic.

 

Effects of Development at Post Mill

I am writing to object to the building of 24 more houses in Post Mill lane and request that the Appeal be rejected. This objection is based upon three matters as set out below.

  1. EXISTING GOVERNMENT AND MID SUFFOLK HOUSING POLICIES.
  2. LACK OF SUSTAINABILITY IN TERMS OF TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE, SERVICES, AMENITIES AND EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES.
  3. FRESSINGFIELD’S ALREADY AGREED CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS NEW AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

1) EXISTING GOVERNMENT AND MID SUFFOLK HOUSING POLICIES.
a) GOVERNMENT POLICY.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, declared in his Budget Speech: ‘ We will focus (house building) on URBAN areas where people want to live and where MOST JOBS are created, making the best use of our urban land and continuing the strong protection of our Green Belt. IN PARTICULAR building high quality housing in CITY CENTRES and TRANSPORT HUBS.

b) MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL HOUSING POLICY

The Council will help REDUCE THE NEED TO TRAVEL, REDUCE JOURNEY DISTANCES and make it safer and easier for people to access jobs, shopping, leisure facilities and services by PUBLIC TRANSPORT,WALKING AND CYCLING.

If these policies are to be adhered to then these 24 houses cannot be built in Fressingfield as all the requirements fail, totally, to be met in this village as is shown in the sections below.

2) LACK OF SUSTAINABILITY IN TERMS OF TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE, SERVICES, AMENITIES AND EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES.

a) TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

Fressingfield is a small, rural village with no access to the sort of transport necessary to support further, significant housing development.

  • It is many miles from the nearest transport hub let alone an A road.
  • The roads into and out from the village are, in most cases, winding and narrow.
  • The nearest railway station is Diss, 10 miles away.
  • The centre of the village roads are narrow and, often, congested.
  • Large parts of the village have no pavements with the roads running so tight to housing that no pavements could be added.
  • New Street which is home to the village shop, the Methodist Chapel and the Surgery is particularly congested with there being inadequate parking at the Surgery and only on road parking at the shop.
  • Suffolk Highways came out against the development on the grounds of safety, especially that of pedestrians.
  • The one bus service a week to and from Norwich on a Saturday, is under review as it is subsidised and, I am reliably informed, is likely to be axed leaving us with no public transport provision at all. Two SCHOOL BUSES do run on weekdays, in term time, BUT NOT IN THE HOLIDAYS OR AT WEEKENDS. Indeed my granddaughter has used one of them daily for three years and has never seen a member of the public use it!
  • Jubilee Corner, at the end of New Street, our busiest road onto which more traffic would disgorge if this development goes ahead, is a 4 road junction on a sharp bend where a number of accidents have occurred recently. Further congestion will only increase accident risks and heighten dangers to pedestrians as it a popular route for parents taking young children to school.

b) SERVICES

The limited services available, village shop, Primary School, surgery, three churches, a pub and a restaurant make it absolutely necessary for people living in the village to use their cars to access a large number of services located in distant, urban centres – this is totally at odds with central and local government declared policies.

c) AMENITIES

There are two tennis courts and a bowling green in the village with a children’s play area (the football pitch has not been used for a long time). Villagers have to raise a significant carbon footprint every time they wish to access other, higher order amenities such as cinemas, theatres and major stores.

d) EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Less than a year ago I carried out a comprehensive survey of employment opportunities in the village. I discovered that there are 58 Full Time equivalent jobs available. Many of these are part-time (shop, pub, restaurant) and 24 are full-time, graduate posts (doctors, nurses and teachers). A small woodworking business employs 5 people, there are limited opportunities for farm workers and occasional builds in the village provide temporary work for those in the building trade. Virtually all newcomers would have to drive to work thus increasing the carbon footprint which is, once again, totally against declared government policies.

3) FRESSINGFIELD’S ALREADY AGREED HOUSING BUILDS

In the last two years Mid Suffolk D.C. has approved the building of 51 new houses in Fressingfield including 17 affordable houses (i.e. 33% of the total). At the last count there were only 11 families, locally, on the list for an affordable home, leave a surplus of 6 houses.

Fressingfield has a population of 1000 and if the ratio of 51 new houses per 1000 of the population were extrapolated nationally it would produce 3.3 MILLION NEW HOUSES nationally, far, far in excess of the government’s target for new builds. Clearly Fressingfield is already contributing a great deal more than its fair share!!

You will have been made aware of the major problem of sewage egress onto Low Road with contamination of the road, the beck and residents’ gardens at times of high precipitation. In a meeting I attended with representatives of Anglia Water they admitted that a) more houses would exacerbate the problem (more serious and more frequent outpourings) and b) they could do nothing to solve the problem! Environmental pollution on this scale and frequency is totally and utterly unacceptable and we/you cannot allow it to worsen further through the building of yet more housing.

There can be NO GROUNDS on which this appeal can succeed. The circumstances have not changed since the application was made last November and turned down UNANIMOUSLY by the MSDC Planning Committee on the recommendation of a most diligent and impressive Planning Officer who went to great lengths to establish all the facts during numerous visits to the village. The building of the 24 houses in the village goes against government and local authority declared policies, it is totally unsustainable on every count and will lead to unacceptable, increased environmental pollution. If this is not enough Fressingfield is at the top of the league table of villages contributing demonstrably more housing to help the national effort than most other other villages.


Traffic in New Street

The original planning application, reference 1648/17 was brought to Committee on the 21st November 2018 and, after a very substantially presented case, was refused unanimously along with two other applications in Fressingfield.

One of the main reasons for the refusal for this particular application was the unavoidable and inevitable increase in vehicular traffic as well as pedestrian traffic at the entrance of Post Mill Lane onto and along New Street.

image005

This area is already a point of congestion as it is only a few metres from the Fressingfield Medical Centre. There is an existing problem there due to insufficient parking space and no opportunity to expand. Many patients and visitors must park on the roadway ie New Street.

Vehicular traffic is often chaotic as the accompanying photo’s show and for pedestrian traffic ie parents and children walking school in New Street toward the preferred entrance to the school, dog- walkers and residents making their way to the village shop, which is further down New Street, is often a frightening experience. When heavy transport and huge farm vehicles meet on this road where there is virtually no pathway, there is simply no safe place for pedestrians.

 

20190606_103151

New Street and Top Road, which are at best ‘C’ category roads, connect the B1123 and B1116 and are frequently used to divert traffic during road works et cetera thereby bring more traffic into Fressingfield and specifically New Street.

New Street Traffic 5

There have been countless ‘collisions’ in New Street as a result of the winding and narrow road i.e. side view mirrors being damaged or destroyed, side-swipes and panel damage. Many of these incidents are not reported to the Police simply because the damage has not been witnessed or anyone harmed but some have and these are recorded. But all these issues are caused by current vehicular congestion.

At the conclusion of the 21 st November ’18 Committee hearing, Councillors commented that Fressingfield already had two approved planning applications (totalling approximately 50 dwellings) neither of which had, at that time, been developed. Along with the refusal, these Councillors unanimously agreed that no further applications should be considered until the two approved sites had been developed. At the time of writing, not only have these sites not been developed but one site is still on the market and the other has not broken ground due to surface water/drainage issues.

Why on earth should an appeal for Post Mill Lane even be considered!?


Draft Mid Suffolk Local Plan.

The above document is now available.

For Fressingfield it confirms us as an “Hinterland ” village with an allocation of 56 new houses between 2018 and 2036. 51 new houses have already been approved.

23/06/19


Suffolk Preservation Society

John Castro was approached to write an article for the latest issue of the Suffolk Preservation Society Magazine, “Suffolk View” (available here to read online – See Spring 2019)

Suffolk View Spring 2019 SAFE

Introduction

Fressingfield is a small village close to the Suffolk/Norfolk border with about 350 houses in the centre of the village and a total population of just over 1000. It is primarily agricultural with only 64 full-time equivalent jobs. In early 2017 Mid Suffolk District Council published its SHELAA (Strategic Housing & Employment Land Availability Assessment) document which identifi ed significant parcels of land in our village for potential major developments. In February two “hybrid” schemes, including 50 houses, were approved. A month later planning approval was sought for three sites totalling 208 houses with an additional 584 residents. At this stage we decided to become active. SAFE (Supporters Against Fressingfield Expansion) was formed, with a small committee and developed into a lobbying group. Our aim was to ‘limit major development in Fressingfield’.

Actions

We arranged a scientifically sound petition, visiting every house in the central area of the village and found 94 per cent of villagers were against major developments. This gave us a mandate to speak for the village. It was apparent that residents were unaware of what was happening so we arranged for distribution of posters and subsequently set up our own website https://fressingfieldhousing.org/ This was to inform both residents and decisionmakers. We instigated public meetings and wrote to specialist departments at District and County Council level, including Highways, Planning and Anglian Water. We reviewed important policy documents as they became available and made comment to the appropriate authorities, as well as publicising these on the website. SAFE was involved in both writing and organizing lobbying papers to be sent to District Council planning committee members.

These papers deal with single aspects of infrastructure and their impact on village life. We met with the senior planning officer and discussed the issues of concern to the villagers and the lack of sustainability.

Areas of Concern

When the planning applications were submitted a very significant number of objections were raised by villagers of their own volition and in their own words. These highlighted the problems in the village which would be aggravated by more development, for example the overloading of the primary school and surgery, (although these are not planning considerations); the fact that there was one bus a week and the lack of local employment. There were several major problems which we were able to publicise and provide objective information.

Traffic and road safety has been a cause of great concern for many years. Many areas do not have footways, including New Street where the shop, medical centre, scout hut and Methodist Chapel are located. New Street leads to a complex junction – Jubilee Corner. More development results in more cars, particularly as there is a lack of local employment and no secondary school in the village. A projected 57 per cent increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic in these circumstances would lead to an ‘unacceptable impact on highway safety’. The revised NPPF cites this as a reason for refusal. There is a long standing, poorly documented problem with surface water flooding in Low Road which is at the bottom of four steep slopes. Residents testify to flooding going back to the 1960s.

There has also been a serious problem with the sewerage. Manholes lift at times of heavy rainfall, causing raw sewage to enter the roadway and residents’ gardens. This is a public health hazard and is getting worse. We have corresponded with the Suffolk Director of Public Health and met with Anglian Water who told us that the situation cannot be rectified. More development would worsen the situation.

Heritage aspects were also important. The proposed urban developments would be out of-scale and alien in character. Fressingfield is a small village set in a hollow dominated by its ancient Grade I listed church. There are 444 houses in the Fressingfield Parish of which 58 are listed. There are also many unlisted ancient houses. The Suffolk Preservation Society robustly objected to all three schemes on the grounds that Fressingfield was a deeply unsustainable location. Both Historic England and Suffolk Archaeology expressed reservations about some developments

The Outcome

The senior planning officer’s report recommended refusal of all three planning applications. The applications had been taken to Committee on 21st November 2018 and, after debate and an open vote, all three were unanimously rejected on grounds of –

  1. an unsustainable location,
  2. exacerbation of flooding with the egress of sewage, and
  3. highways impact.

Epilogue

The aims of SAFE have been to express and publicise the views of the village in a polite and objective way and to clearly state the facts, without bias or emotion. It was important to maintain the support of the village and the success of this approach was manifest by more than 60 people journeying to Ipswich for a 9.00am Planning Committee hearing.


Sewerage.

When the Applications were heard in November 2018 sewerage was an important consideration. SAFE has now received documentation that confirms that further development in the current situation will increase the risk and quantity of flooding at times of heavy rainfall and the egress of sewage from the manholes will increase. This will occur because more houses will generate more foul sewage meaning a smaller volume of rainfall is needed for the sewer covers to elevate.

We have been told by Anglian Water that there is no solution to this problem. We have reports of sewerage blockages occurring in New Street on 2 June 2018 and again on 10th June 2018. The sewage from Post Mill is pumped to the sewer in New Street.

Conversion of the “Old Baptist Chapel” in Cratfield Road ( DC/19/00571)

Plans have now been submitted for permission to convert the Grade 2* listed chapel into a single 5 bedroom dwelling. Comments and objections should be sent to MSDC by 1st March.

The Application proposes that the surface water drains into the foul sewer. In view of the sewage problem in the village a more eco friendly solution and a better surface water strategy would be recommended.

Mid Suffolk Heritage Department has made comments on design.

Historic England have made significant comments. They have concerns on heritage grounds and would like significant changes to the plans. Their recommendations can be viewed by clicking on this link

Other Documents.

Right Homes Right Places. This policy document is still with the Government and has not been adopted yet following consultation. There is no information when this might be.


The Planning Meeting

The Planning Meeting took place on Wednesday 21st November 2018 at Endeavour House, Ipswich

There was a magnificent attendance of about 50 villagers. Thank you all so much for this wonderful effort. It was much appreciated and showed the Planning Committee and Officers the strength of the feeling in the village. Well Done.

PANO_20181121_091515.vr
Endeavour House, while public were arriving.

Procedure

Each Application followed the same format:

  • An introduction by the Acting Chief Planning Officer;
  • Comments by the Parish Council;
  • Comments by SAFE;
  • Comments by the Applicants Agent;
  • Comments by the Ward Councillor.

There followed, after debate amongst Committee members, an open vote.

Results

(The full statement for refusal is view-able for each application below)

Stradbroke Road (1449/17) – unanimously rejected

John Shepherd Road (1432/17) – unanimously rejected

Post Mill (1648/17) – unanimously rejected

Minutes of the MSDC Planning Meeting (Mid Suffolk Development Control Committee A) can be read here, detailing the events of the meeting in full.


News Article

The East Anglian Daily Times has published a story about the Planning Committee Meeting at 7pm, 23 November 2018:

Fressingfield 200 homes plan refused after hundreds object

image
Three outlines of planning applications for new homes in Fressingfield Picture: GOOGLE MAPS (EADT News Story)

Plans to develop more than 200 homes in a north Suffolk village have been rejected after hundreds of objections and fears over “unacceptable growth”.

Three outline planning applications were presented to Mid Suffolk District Council’s development control meeting on Wednesday by two developers aiming to develop land in Fressingfield.

Developer Simon Brown had lodged applications for 85 homes off Stradbroke Road and 99 homes on land west of John Shepherd Road, while Davidson Ltd requested permission for 24 homes off Post Mill Lane.

Reports prepared for the planning committee said all three proposals were outside the settlement boundary of the village, with planning officers describing the plans as a “significant and inappropriate level of development” with the level of growth deemed “unacceptable”.

Fressingfield Parish Council objected to all three developments, stating that it “remains committed to its original (Dec 2015) view that the village could accommodate growth of 50 units over the coming 10 years and will reject proposals that exceed this”.

Wednesday’s committee unanimously refused all three.

Councillor Lesley Mayes, vice-chairman of Mid Suffolk District Council’s development control committee, said: “The decisions taken were not a simple matter, considering over 200 homes across three applications.

“The committee looked at each application in turn and the individual merits and weaknesses of each one.

“After long deliberation, the committee felt unable to approve any of these applications: each was refused for reasons specific to the individual application, but some common themes emerged including an unacceptable increase in traffic in the village centre without safe, practical alternatives and the impact of the proposed developments on the drainage system of the village.”

Suffolk Highways also objected during its consultation because of road safety fears, while 308 objections from members of the public were received for the two largest developments alone.

A spokesman from NWA Planning, agents on behalf of Mr Brown were approached for comment.

Two applications for 46 homes in the village were approved earlier this year.

Original web page can be found by clicking here:

Fressingfield 200 homes plan refused after hundreds object – EADT 23/11/2018


Email Submission – Prior to Planning Meeting

At 4.00pm the day before the hearing the following letter was received from the Agents acting for the Stradbroke Road scheme and the John Shepherd scheme offering a significant reduction in the number of houses to be developed.

The Chair of the Planning Committee , with legal advice, made it clear that the original Applications, not the last minute proposals would be considered. Despite this the Agent for Stradbroke Road and John Shepherd Road presented the Applications almost exclusively on the revised schemes.

To All Members of Mid Suffolk District Council Development Control Committee A

Dear Member

I am writing to you as agent for the above applications.  You will be aware that both applications are to be considered at the Development Control Committee’s meeting on 21st November 2018 with both applications being recommended for refusal.  The applications were submitted following inclusion of both sites in the Council’s SHLAA and pre-application consultation with both the District Council and the County Highway Authority indicated no objection to the principle of the development proposed.  Indeed, after nearly 18 months following submission of the applications the current Committee reports provide the first indication to my clients that Council officers have fundamental objections to the schemes such as to warrant refusal of planning permission.  Those objections have not been put to my clients for consideration and comment and had that been done I am sure that my clients would have given the concerns positive consideration.  As it stands, if the Committee is minded to refuse planning permission my clients would propose to submit revised proposals which I believe would overcome the objections raised sufficient to allow the Committee to support the revised schemes.

In essence, these revisions provide for:-

(i)                  A substantial reduction in the number of dwellings proposed;

(ii)                A consequent substantial reduction in vehicular movements at Jubilee Corner and within New Street;

(iii)               Measures to ensure no additional flood risk is caused;

(iv)              Avoidance of any unacceptable impact on the Conservation Area and adjoining listed buildings.

In respect of the two applications these revisions would involve the following changes:-

Stradbroke Road, Street Farm

(i)                  A reduction in number of dwellings from 85 to 10 – 15 which would require a revised application;

(ii)                A change from estate development to frontage development reflecting existing development on the opposite side of Stradbroke Road;

(iii)               Provision of a frontage footpath to Stradbroke Road and footpath link to the recreation ground adjoining the southern boundary;

(iv)              Diversion of the public sewer in New Street through Church Farm to connect with the mains sewer downstream of the existing flooding problem thereby removing a substantial number of existing dwellings from the problem area within the foul drainage system resulting in a net improvement in flood risk.

John Shepherd Road, Church Farm

(i)                  A reduction from 99 dwellings to 27 dwellings by restricting housing development to the first field within the application site adjoining John Shepherd Road.  This could be achieved by modifying the existing planning application as the reduced site is clearly severable from the remainder of the development and self-contained;

(ii)                The reduced development would have a commensurate effect on traffic in New Street and Jubilee Corner;

(iii)               Minor modifications for foul drainage proposals would enable connection to the mains sewer downstream of the existing pumping station so as to avoid any exacerbation of the existing flooding problem.  This can be covered by either submission of amended plans or by planning condition;

(iv)              Omission of development immediately to the west of the adjoining listed buildings and Conservation Area which is protected, in any event, by an established 10m wide boundary hedgerow.

The NPPF requires Local Planning Authorities to approach development proposals in a positive and creative way and support for the revised approach to the development of the Stradbroke Road and John Shepherd Road sites as outlined above would meet that requirement.  It would result in:-

  • a substantial reduction in the number of dwellings proposed and a scale of development normally considered appropriate for hinterland villages;
  • significantly reduced traffic generation coupled with substantial improvements to the road system which would be of benefit to the whole village;
  • a significant reduction in the existing flooding problem; and
  • it would avoid unacceptable impact on Heritage Assets.

I would therefore urge members to support modifications to the John Shepherd Road application as proposed and to indicate that a revised application for frontage development on Stradbroke Road could be given favourable consideration.

An immediate response was sent to all committee members & Planning officer from Elizabeth Manero and SAFE:

Dear Councillors – you will be aware of this very last minute amendment to proposals 1449/17 and 1432/17, produced less than 24 hours before the planning committee meeting. We think it quite inappropriate to put Councillors into the invidious position of having to decide two very contentious amended applications on the  basis of an email making very significant changes without any of the evidence usually required to support the claims made for those changes.

1. Unlawful process -This document is  not on the planning register so other objectors, and there are many as you may know with the petition against the original proposals attracting 450 signatures, have not had the chance to review it. We do not see that the Committee can lawfully discuss this proposed amendment in the absence of a further consultation, particularly  because 3 out of 4 of the possible criteria that government guidance specifies for re- consultation are present in this case: substantial original objections (public health hazards, road safety, flooding); substantial changes proposed and issues raised that were covered in our objections (road safety, flooding, sewage and heritage)

2. A document which fails to resolve our objections – Even if it were appropriate for this document to be considered tomorrow in relation to these applications, we feel that it does not address our objections and we would respectfully suggest that the Committee should  proceed with the Officer’s recommendation for refusal.

3. Early Thoughts – In the limited time available we have endeavoured to collate some early thoughts, based on the extremely sketchy information, contained in the email to yourselves from Neil Ward on behalf of the applicant, sent at 3.55 this afternoon.  No plan has been provided, making it very difficult to understand what is actually proposed.

a. Generally The fiction underlying the presentation of these changes is that there is now spare road and drainage capacity and the very, very serious impact of the original proposals would now only very serious – and therefore acceptable. The truth is the road network is currently overloaded, the flooding is already out of hand and both these problems will be exacerbated by the 52 houses already approved. We already have another 119 residents arriving including at least a dozen primary school children, as well as those coming to the scout hut and the Baptist chapel. We are already approaching an unsustainable situation so no amendment is capable of making these additional proposals sustainable.

b. Road safety – the reduction to  up to 42 houses, in two parcels of  10-15 at Stradbroke Rd and 27 at JS Rd, does not overcome either our road safety objections, nor those of SCC because

  • The baseline road safety has been assessed by SCC from their observation of existing levels of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as already subject to road safety risks
  • In addition to the current level of pedestrian traffic (unmeasured in the Cumulative Transport Assessment CTA originally provided), the extra 119 pedestrians that will come from 33872/16 and 4410/16, will exacerbate existing independently observed road safety hazards further, while the extra vehicular traffic they will bring including that caused by people attending the larger Baptist Chapel and larger scout hut from outside the village (explicitly not measured in the original CTA) will exacerbate those road safety risks further,
  • The people living in the reduced number of houses suggested  would still have to access the ‘core area’ as defined by SCC to access the main facilities (shop and surgery). There might be fewer of them but there will still be an extra 96 people (using SCC’s formula) walking round the village and at least 42 extra cars contributing to traffic every day. Unless these new residents were banned from car ownership, this can only aggravate road safety through higher pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the village generally and in the core area.

c. Flooding and sewage – it is important to distinguish between these two existing problems.

  • Flooding happens independently of the sewage overflow and is poorly recorded. In the absence of accurate records it is hard to see how any calculations can have been done  to prove any improvement in flooding – a mere statement in an email is not adequate to inform a planning decision.
  • No evidence is provided as to how the sewage problem would be avoided by moving the connection beyond the pumping station, which may or may not be able to cope in the different topography in which it lies – again a mere statement is not enough to inform a valid decision

3.Amendments Stradbroke Rd –

  • It is  not clear how a footpath link to the recreation ground assists with the safety route to the school, shop and surgery – how would people be forced to use this very long way round to get to the facilities in the core area?
  • With the 52 houses already approved, Jubilee Corner and New St will already be more dangerous so the point about a supposed reduced additional impact from reduced  numbers of new houses is irrelevant .
  • Cars coming through Jubilee Corner and into New St from these new  42 houses, at least once a day, and would add significantly to the regular traffic through this dangerous junction, which is already set to increase as is the number of pedestrians making their way round and along it, with all the evidenced problems of poor visibility.
  • This would gravely compromise the conservation area particularly New St., through additional traffic, which is already hazardous.
  • The sewage reroute is hard to assess and Anglian Water would need to comment upon this. The volume of sewage added would still be significant and it is not clear that the pumping station has capacity to deal with this. Where would this route be and is it uphill or not? Given the chequered history on this, the suitability of this proposal would need a very through independent assessment – a few lines in a last minute email does not meet this standard.
  • There is no assessment of the risk of flooding elsewhere as guidance requires (from more hard standing for example than currently), and no mention of a SUDs.
  • We should expect a cumulative flood risk assessment to be done of these amended proposals and Post Mill as well as the two approved developments as the 23018 NPPF requires.
  • The assertion of a ‘net improvement in flood risk’ is not tenable – there is an existing flood risk, about to be worsened, and moving these houses to discharge sewage further up the network whilst still adding more surface water and less permeable ground, will not mitigate that
  • There is no mention of any affordable housing. We already have 12 being built in the approved proposals

4. Amendments John Shepherd Road

  • Building more houses with more traffic, will not ‘reduce traffic’ as claimed
  • SCC has pointed out (their letter of 31st July 2018) that the existing pedestrian access from the proposed JS Rd development does not currently have good visibility and cannot be improved. This  position remains unchanged.
  • These additional houses would still add to traffic emerging onto Back St. and contributing to hazards at Jubilee Corner including the adjacent footpath which SCC has highlighted as particularly hazardous
  • There are no ‘substantial improvements to the road system’ as claimed, other than a new foot path from S Rd to the recreation ground, a destination of limited value
  • There is no ‘significant reduction in the flooding problem’ as claimed.  Flooding must be distinguished from sewage overflow. How would  these houses reduce flooding?

5. Re-consultation – We do hope that you will proceed to refuse these application in line with Officer recommendations. In the event that you decide to entertain these amendments we would request a significant re consultation period to allow the 1000 plus residents of the parish the chance to respond, especially given the run up to the Christmas period.

Many thanks

Elizabeth Manero and John Castro

SAFE


Major Issues

There are five major issues relating to proposed Applications –

  • Overall Sustainability
  • Flooding and Sewerage
  • Highways and Road Safety
  • Heritage
  • Deliverability & Viability

1 – Overall Sustainability

Fressingfield Planning Applications 1432/17, 1449/17 AND 1648/17

Sustainability Summary

SustainabilityPaper1

1. THE STORY SO FAR

1.1 Sustainability Deficit – Construction has yet to start on the 46 houses, larger scout hut and Baptist chapel already approved. These will come on top of 25% housing growth since 1995. There has been no associated increase in sewerage or road capacity, so there is already a ‘sustainability deficit’. This would be aggravated by the three further proposals for 208 houses, increasing housing overall by 57% and bringing a 584 extra residents to the village, according to SCC estimates.

1.2. Accountability deficit – In Mid Suffolk, houses have not been built where policy intended. In all but two of the last eighteen years, more houses have been built in rural rather than urban locations, contrary to MSDC policy and compromising ‘the intrinsic beauty and character of the countryside,’ which the NPPF seeks to protect. Despite an MSDC target of 100 houses over each five-year period across all Primary Villages like Fressingfield, 197 houses were built in such villages between 2012 and 2017. In 2017 2018, 120% (120) of the entire target for the succeeding five years was built across such locations.

This ‘accountability deficit’ would be aggravated by these three further proposals because they would locate 48% of the annual housing need figure for the entire district (MSDC 430) in one medieval rural village. Even based on the higher annual figure specified in the recent Woolpit Appeal (702), 30% of the houses needed for the whole district would be built in Fressingfield – a village currently occupied by 1% of its population. The courts have recognised failure to apply policy as a material consideration in planning decisions.

In addition to being disproportionate, contrary to MSDC policy and unreasonable, such approvals would flout the NPPF (para 103), which requires ‘significant development’ to be ‘on locations which are or can be made sustainable.’ 1 As explained below, this location cannot be made sustainable.

2. SUSTAINABILITY AND ADVERSE IMPACTS

In the absence of an up to date development plan, the NPPF (para 11) presumes proposals to be sustainable, and requires them to be approved, unless:

a) specified assets need to be protected, including ‘areas at risk of flooding’ ; or
b) any adverse impacts of approval would ‘significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits’ when assessed against the NPPF policies as a whole.

2.1 Flooding and Drainage – there is a long standing and poorly documented problem of surface water flooding in Low Rd. which runs along the hollow formed by the four steep slopes that characterise Fressingfield – a rare Suffolk topography according to MSDC’s own Joint Landscape Guidance. This is also the route of the beck and the village’s foul sewer. Residents testify to flooding going back to the 1960s and can evidence their attempts since 1985 to get this problem addressed.

The additional long-standing problem of sewage manholes popping in heavy rain causes raw sewage to pollute residents’ gardens, leading to a public health hazard and possible statutory nuisance. This hazard is getting steadily worse and seems to coincide with the 25% growth in the village over the last 25 years or so. It has happened eight times since 2016 alone

These factors were not taken into account in the Flood Risk Assessments for the five developments, which under the NPPF must assess impact of developments on flood risk ‘elsewhere’. This was because of flawed information from the bodies dealing with flooding and sewerage:

SCC – Flood records are acknowledged to be incomplete, because of low reporting. Our July 2018 Environmental Information Regulations application disclosed that SCC

  • has records of only one flooding incident in Low Rd. since 2011 (out of 29 floods recorded)
  • does not know how much surface water gets into the sewer, nor the extent of current flooding
  • designates the sewer as Combined*, (*designated to take both surface water and sewage) although Anglian Water, its owner, insists that it is not

SCC has required no cumulative impact assessment of the flood risk of these multiple developments, as the NPPF (para 156) requires. It has recommended approval based on an incomplete picture of the current and potential flood risk, and an incomplete understanding of whether surface water does – or should – get into a sewer that regularly floods.

b) Anglian Water – Despite regularly attending incidents of sewage egress from the sewer, Anglian Water have recommended approval of these proposals, at this stage. Our EIR application to them of August 2018 revealed that their reasoning ignores reality:

  • an unknown number of houses are connected to the foul sewer for rainwater discharge
  • this causes an unknown amount of surface water to enter the foul sewer
  • with increasing frequency, any spare capacity in the sewer is taken up by this surface water

These connections are not illegal and residents concerned cannot be compelled to change their connections. Although this surface water is the cause of the regular flooding, Anglian Water does not consider it to be within their power to recommend refusal of these applications because of it, as this is not a sewage problem and their remit is exclusively sewage. Anglian Water has confirmed that the problem of egress of sewage cannot be cured.

Unless the 105 new residents expected in the 46 approved houses, and the 479 in the 208 proposed houses are put on a forced starvation diet, there will be 57% extra sewage discharging into a system which already regularly floods, pollutes and causes hazards to public health. The threshold for flooding will be lower because of the extra houses and climate change, while the impact will be higher because of more sewage in the system. Planning approval would fail to protect an ‘area at risk of flooding’ and generate precisely the sort of overwhelming ‘adverse impacts’ that make a development unsustainable according to the NPPF.

2.2 Traffic and Road Safety Despite unresolved concerns about road safety and congestion, SCC has recommended approval of these applications, at this stage. SCC estimates an extra 584 residents, including 63 primary school children, all variously walking to the medical centre, the school, the shop, the pubs, the sports centre, Sancroft Hall and the three places of worship. Yet they have asked for no baseline data on pedestrian traffic, nor any modelling of the increase, and have ignored the impact of more traffic on either. The amount of additional traffic resulting from the larger scout hut and Baptist chapel has been omitted from discussion altogether.

There are many areas of the village without footways where pedestrians must walk along the road, including most of New St. where the shop and medical centre are located, as well as one complete side of Jubilee corner. Increases in pedestrian and vehicular traffic will make this more hazardous. Planned and existing footpaths concentrate pedestrian traffic at the points where these footpaths will join the road. Yet in some cases, visibility is very poor:

  • Visibility where an existing footpath emerges onto New St., a few yards from Jubilee Corner, offers no visibility into Back Street (onto which John Shepherd Rd emerges) nor Stradbroke Rd. These are the roads onto which traffic from an extra 184 houses will emerge. SCC recommends painting the lines on Jubilee Corner a different colour to slow traffic down.
  • The new footpath proposed from Post Mill Lane onto New Street will emerge at the top of an outward facing curve in New St, with very poor visibility in each direction and no footway. SCC does not appear to be aware of this.
  • The village shop, which is vital to its sustainability, does not have adequate parking and it is already dangerous for pedestrians negotiating their way along the road around cars parked outside the shop, with the view of oncoming traffic blocked. More traffic and pedestrians will increase this hazard. SCC has ignored this factor.

The needs of pedestrians have not been assessed, breaching the NPPF requirement to ‘prioritise pedestrians’. Mitigation measures designed without data on pedestrians, children, cyclists or disabled people do not address the likely adverse impacts upon them. Given current road safety risks, a 57% increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic of all types, would clearly lead to ‘an unacceptable impact on highway safety’, which the NPPF cites as a reason for refusal.

Fressingfield has a one bus a week, described by SCC as ‘of no use for commuting’. This suggests that at least an extra 508 car journeys will be generated per day by 254 new houses, assuming just one return journey per house per day, whether to travel to and from work or school, or for major shopping, leisure activities or to get petrol, increasing emissions by a very considerable amount.

The information provided in support of the planning decisions is incomplete, in that it not only ignores different types of road users but it also fails to assess the impact on the environment. The impact on character of a small medieval village of so much extra traffic has been entirely ignored.

2.3 Heritage – These developments would be out of scale and out of character for Fressingfield.

Both John Shepherd Rd (1432/17) and Post Mill Lane (1648/17) are extensions to existing housing developments and would be contiguous to each other, creating a collar of new housing around the western boundary of a medieval village, matched by new housing to the south (3872/16 and 4410/16 already agreed and 1449/17). This would radically alter the village’s character and certainly not make a ‘positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness’ as the NPPF requires.

Fressingfield is a small village set within a hollow dominated by its ancient church. It comprises 444 houses, 58 listed buildings and many unlisted historic buildings. Large estates around its boundaries would destroy its character as a small ancient settlement and compromise its relationship to its rural setting. Both Suffolk Archaeology and the Suffolk Preservation Society have expressed reservations about some of these developments and the former has formally objected to part of 1432/17.

3. THE PLANNING SYSTEM

In addition to complying with the NPPF and relevant local policies, like all public bodies MSDC and SCC are required by law to

  • act only within the powers they has been given; and
  • take account of matters they are required expressly or by implication to take account of; and
  • disregard matters which are not relevant to the decision; and
  • avoid ‘a conclusion so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it’

The flaws outlined above call compliance with these matters into question.

4. CONCLUSION

Policy limits on development in villages like Fressingfield which were designed to maintain their sustainability, have been exceeded for many years, creating a ‘sustainability deficit’ before these applications are even considered. An unknown number of houses are connected to the sewer for rainwater discharge, which has caused flooding and pollution for many years, of the worst possible kind – human excrement flooding onto the highway, into the beck and adjacent properties. This has been neither recorded nor resolved. More houses would mean a greater impact from high rainfall because an even greater volume of sewage would overflow.

The increase in car journeys by so many new residents in a location with minimal employment opportunities and a sparse bus service will be significant, exacerbating emissions and contributing to climate change rather than mitigating it.

Fressingfield is a small medieval settlement within an unusual landscape setting. It will suffer significant harm from three large developments that, together with the two already approved but not constructed, will swamp its character.

No amount of mitigation can make what is unsustainable, sustainable. Adverse impacts on flooding, pollution, public health, road safety and the environment together mean these developments would not be sustainable and their adverse impacts would be significant.

Elizabeth Manero, on behalf of SAFE 26th October 2018

The full report on sustainability can be accessed here: Sustainability Detailed Paper


2 – Flooding & Sewerage

Recent Planning Activity

There has recently been a lot activity regarding the Planning Applications for Fressingfield. Flooding and sewerage are currently the factors being considered. The Principal Planning Officer, Vincent Pearce posed a number of questions to Officers concerned with these matters. These are shown below:

1432/17 Officer Correspondence

The response from Jason Skilton at Suffolk County Council is also below:

Drainage Issues and Flooding Response

SAFE has produced papers on flooding and Sewage which have been circulated to Planning Committee members and Senior Planning Officers. See lobby papers:

An Overview of Flooding and Sewage Egress in Fressingfield

Lobby Paper – Problems with flooding and sewerage in Fressingfield

Contents in full below:

Problems with Flooding and Sewerage in Fressingfield

“Anglian Water would not permit the discharge of surface water from a new development or hard standing area to connect to a dedicated foul water sewer” – ( Growth and Planning Services Team at Anglian Water 11 May 2017 )

John Shepherd Way( Road) – 1432/17 ” -Surface Water Disposal -The proposed method of surface water drainage submitted is acceptable to Anglian Water.   –The connection point for the surface water would be to manhole 9651  – at a rate of 17.5 litres per second” – ( Nigel Minter at Anglian Water 8th August 2017)

Application 3872/16   ” Should infiltration or attenuated discharge from the ditch not be possible Anglian Water have confirmed they would accept restricted discharge rates of 5 litres per second into their network.” -( Plandescil Report 17th August 2017- Confirmed by Anglian Water 27th October 2107 – Mark Rhodes Report.)

” our overriding objective is to ensure there is no detriment to existing customers as a result of the development. “ -( Hannah Wilson- Anglian Water 20th April 2017.)

” Flood risk should be managed and not be increased elsewhere by the development “ -(NPPF July 2018)

“Without an adequate system for surface water drainage, this is causing flooding on the  road. Surface water is also getting into the foul sewer system, which is not designed to cope these levels of flows and therefore causing manholes to pop and sewage to overflow. I would recommend that the lead local flood authority need to ensure a suitable drainage system for the surface water is implemented  and Anglian Water need to remove surface water inputs from their foul sewer to relieve some of the pressure.” -(Rachael Storr- Environment Agency 18 May 2018)

There seem to be a number of paradoxes and conflicting advice in these statements. Certainly if more surface water is allowed into the sewer the sewerage system problems will be exacerbated.

This paper points out the short comings of the current strategy and seeks clarification and answers about  factors which  may contribute to the current problems.

Background History

There is a long standing problem with flooding and sewage egress, but it appears to now  be more prevalent with four episodes in six months at the beginning of 2018.

In 1988 the problem was discussed between our then MP Michael Lord and Anglian Water CEO Peter Bray. The Chief Local Authority Medical Officer was involved as was the Local Government Ombudsman ( correspondence on this is available).

Egress of sewage only occurs at times of heavy rainfall suggesting that the  system is filled with excess surface water. If more surface water is allowed into the sewerage or Beck the situation will be made worse.

Current Situation

There are some considerable concerns about flooding and sewage egress in Fressingfield. I understand that SCC is primarily concerned with flooding whereas  Anglian Water have responsibility for the sewerage system.

The problem in Fressingfield is that the two aspects are intimately related. Surface water flows downhill to Low Road ( the Lowest point of the village) towards the Beck, sometimes the Beck overflows  and causes flooding and with, or without flooding of the Beck the manholes lift and sewage and water flood onto the road and private gardens. Because of these inter- relations a number of agencies are involved and it is difficult to get clear answers to questions.

Agreed Points

What is agreed, I believe , is that :-

  1. Low Road is at the bottom of 4 steep inclines.
  2. The soil in Fressingfield is impervious.
  3. Flooding in Fressingfield is a long standing problem.
  4. Manhole covers “pop” and this has been a long standing problem.
  5. There is a single sewerage system which takes both sewage and some surface rain water.
  6. Zonal Payments, as with CIL payments,  are not necessarily spent on the village from which they emanate.
  7. Sewage from Fressingfield is pumped to the Weybread treatment plant.

Questions

  1. Why is there flooding and egress of sewage in Low Road ( 4 times in a six month period 07/12/17; 12/03/18; 30/03/18 and 3/04/18)
  2. Are these problems due to overload, particularly surface water entering the system.
  3. How many properties in Fressingfield have an abatement on their sewerage bill because they do not discharge surface water to the sewer?
  4. How many new build properties and developments in the last 30 years been given permission to discharge surface water  to the sewer.
  5. Currently there are 2 major approved schemes, not yet built. We believe that the Chapel scheme ( 3872/16) has permission to discharge to the sewer. Does the Red House Farm Application  ( 4410/16) also have permission to discharge to the sewer and, or via ditches to the Beck?
  6. There are 3 major Applications outstanding  ( 1432/17; 1449/17; 1648/17) Will any of these be permitted to discharge surface water to the sewer or Beck?
  7. All of the drainage strategies appear to be reliant on desk top modelling. How robust are these and what are the levels in confidence? Obviously such   modelling is not fool proof because a change of strategy has occurred on 1449/17 after further extensive modelling.
  8. Will Application 1449/17 be remodelled now as we believe there is a revised site layout increasing the area of hard standing? Jason Skilton ( SCC )wrote on 9th July ” If the layout has changed Area Plan 1152-02-003 will need to be changed as would the FRA/drainage strategy”.
  9. Why does the cumulative impact study include only the three Applications outstanding and not the two already approved, but not yet built?
  10. Is it correct that the desk top modelling allows for 25%ingresss of surface water and is it true that a small inaccuracies in this assumption will significantly affect the outcome figures?
  11. Have Pre-Planning assessments  been updated as plans for developments have changed?. For example a nursing home was in the original John Shepherd scheme( 1437/17) , but this has been omitted and an additional 49 houses added?
  12. Is it true that the soil conditions and topography in Fressingfield make sustainable drainage systems difficult to achieve and discharging into water courses increases the risk of flooding in Low Road ( Anglian Water Letter 20th August 2018)
  13. Is there capacity in the pipe work going to the Weybread, particularly beyond the proposed additional 110 houses for Weybread. Can the system cope with a possible additional 372 houses. ( 54 in Fressingfield approved, but not yet built; 208 under consideration in Fressingfield; 110 in Weybread.) How is this capacity assessed objectively and if only part of the Applications were approved what is the cut off point in terms of the number of houses?
  14. Surface water on the proposed Post Mill site flows to the ditch. I understand that the it is proposed that the flow is attenuated, but if there is very heavy rain the system is designed not to flood the housing estate but will cause the water to flow to the Beck and flood Low Road. The ability of attenuation mechanism to cope with extreme weather conditions has not been evaluated. I note that the drainage consultant for the scheme has included a disclaimer that he will not be liable for any subsequent flooding.
  15. I understand that detailed modelling of the drainage strategy and its approval by the Planning Authority is  not required until after Planning permission has been given. What happens if modelling subsequently shows there will be flooding of the buildings and off site flooding.
  16. Is it true that the permitted capacity  of the  Weybread treatment plant is assessed on dry weather and not total flows and is this how compliance is achieved? There are massive fluctuations particularly when storm water enters the system. Is this of significance in the total overall assessment of the realistic capacity of the treatment plant?

Summary

There are serious problems with the sewerage and flooding in Fressingfield.

These are compounded by the topography and the poor infiltration of the mainly clay soil.

The egress of sewage is probably due to overloading of the sewerage, especially by surface water which has been historically allowed to enter.

Additionally, foul water from extra dwellings will place a further load on the system.

Dr. John Castro on behalf of SAFE

John Kelsall, Elizabeth Manero, Pam Castro, Trevor Orchard, Abi Maydon, Dawn Cavilla, Michael Miles

3 September 2018


Anglian Water

Anglian Water convened a meeting to discuss the outstanding questions. Here are the notes of that meeting:

Notes of an Informal Meeting held on 12th October to discuss Sewerage Issues with Anglian Water

Present

From Anglian Water From MSDC From SAFE
Luke Crump Lavinia Hadingham John Kelsall
Hannah Wilson Vincent Pearce Elizabeth Manero
Nigel Minter John and Pam Castro
Grant Tuffs

Introduction

John Castro welcomed those present and stated that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss sewerage issues and to gain a better understanding of Anglian’s position in addressing those issues. His note of the 3rd September ( copied to all ) would form the basis of the discussion.

John C explained his understanding of the sewerage system, which is generally correct. It was pointed out that the two 150mms pipe connect at the War Memorial into a single 225mms pipe. Agreed that the pressure in the pipe coming downhill from John Shepherd would be greater than the connection from Low Road due to gravity. John C was concerned that this could result in back pressure on the sewer in Low Road causing the manholes to “pop.”

There are two areas of “small surface water sewers ” (conduits)which ultimately discharge into the Beck. They have no connection to the foul sewerage. This fact had not been appreciated by SAFE members, who had understood that there was only one sewer.

Noted that because of the topography surface water runs down the four hills( Church Hill; Buckingham Hill; Back Street; Harleston Hill) to the Beck in Low Road. The soil in Fressingfield has low permeability.

Why do we have egress of sewage in Low Road?

Detailed investigations had been undertaken by Anglian and there is no ingress of rainwater water into the closed system. It is believed that the sewer is overloaded at times of heavy rainfall due to dwellings discharging their surface water directly to the sewer. When this happens the manholes lift.( five times in the last year). Historical connections of surface water directly to the foul sewer are not illegal and no resident can be forced to remove the connection. No one has any idea how many houses are connected. The problem cannot easily be solved as to increase the diameter of the pipe work would reduce flows in “normal” conditions to such a level as to increase smells. Should the manholes be sealed then there would be backflow of sewage into people’s properties. Anglian Water are not funded to invest in laying ” storm pipes” for a storm only events. Anglian stated that under normal conditions only 50% of the sewerage network was currently used. Which disagrees with the SAFE assessment. There was agreement that the egress of sewerage relates exclusively to periods of heavy rainfall and the Beck need not flood for this to occur. The problem is that when it does flood effluent enters the water course. The point was made that there is no deliverable solution and the egress of sewage may continue. John Kelsall highlighted the fact that with the potential for more houses to be connected to the sewer then more of the spare capacity would be utilised within the sewer making the “tipping point” for egress of sewage lower. ie. there would be less capacity for surface water than at present.

Bill Abatements

Unknown how many households have bill abatements for not discharging surface water to the sewer. This cannot therefore be utilised for modelling purposes.

New Properties with surface water connected to Sewer

New properties are not permitted to connect surface water to the sewer , but for developments under 10 houses Anglian Water are not involved. Vincent stated that the Building Regulations would prohibit connections of the surface water drainage to the sewer, but it was pointed out that it is impossible to say that this never happens. ( Please see foot note )

The Chapel Scheme(3872/16 )

Confirmed that this scheme discharges to a “surface Water Sewer” and ultimately to the Beck at an agreed attenuated rate.

The Three outstanding Applications

Hannah confirmed that none of the major Applications would discharge surface water into the used(foul) water sewer, but all three would ultimately be discharging surface water to the Beck. SAFE believe that this will increase the risk of more flooding.

Desk Top Modelling

Luke explained how the computer modelling worked. SAFE were concerned as to how robust such modelling is. Without knowing the amount of rain water entering the system it is impossible to know the starting point in terms of capacity. The models did not feed in exceptional storm events.

Revised Site Layouts

It was asked whether revised drainage strategies should be prepared if site layouts changed. For example, in the case of Stradbroke Road there is now more hard landscaping. Hannah reported that if the developer makes amendments to the onsite design, reducing permeability of the site, the developer would need to construct additional on site attenuation and still only discharge at the agreed rate. Concern was expressed by SAFE over this approach ” a paddock will not have the same run off rates as a car park.”

Issues around Flooding

Whilst accepting this area is not directly the responsibility of Anglian they do work with local Flood leads and model 1:30 year events using predictions from the Met Office. The model which Anglian Water uses is an industry wide standard model agreed by other agencies including the Environment Agency. Vincent reported that the Environment Agency were now using 1:1000 year event modelling.

It was noted that residents in Low Road had had difficulty in obtaining house insurance as the area has been designated as a flood zone.

SAFE is also concerned over the proposed attenuation restricting flows from the new developments to the water course. In times of heavy rainfall flooding to the new developments would be mitigated, but the flows, if excessive could overcome the systems and excess water flow to the Beck, causing off site flooding, contrary to NPPF.

Environmental Information Request

Grant apologised for the delay in response and for the fact that some of the information was incomplete and not totally accurate.

There was confusion in respect of data collection. Nigel confirmed that records for day to day incidents have been recorded since 2011. The Environment Agency(EA) has collected data since 1997, BUT for an incident to show on the EA records it has to meet certain criteria as to the level of pollution. For example whilst the incident in April 2018 was submitted it has not been placed on the EA list of incidents. Since 2011 Anglian Water have reported five incidents in Fressingfield to the EA. Anglian Water are dependent on Fressingfield residents to report incidents. Only 2 of the 4 incidents this year were reported to Anglian.

Elizabeth drew attention to an email from the EA stating that Anglian Water should take steps to reduce the amount of surface water going to the sewer and that they would be discussing the pollution issues in Fressingfield with Anglian . None of the Anglian representatives were aware of any approach from the EA and agreed to follow this up.

Anglian have no powers to require residents to remove their surface drainage connections from the foul sewer and do not have any power to object to a Planning Application nor can they prevent a connection to the foul sewer from taking place. Anglian’s legal position is understood. It must be recognised that there are risks in accepting a system that will be under greater strain at a time of heavy rainfall. Vincent recognised Anglian Water’s legal position in the consultation process and suggested that he write to Hannah with specific questions on which he required answers. Hannah confirmed that Anglian would be in a position to respond to the specific questions relating to the Planning Applications.

Key Messages

-It is highly likely that the egress of sewage is due to overload of the system at times of heavy rainfall because of historical connections of surface water to the foul sewer.

– There is NO obvious deliverable solution, therefore egress of sewage in Low Road will continue in the future, regardless as to whether there is further development.

-Site topography and the fact that the Post Mill , Stradbroke Road, and John Shepherd Road all ultimately discharge surface water to the Beck which must increase the risk of flooding in Low Road.

It is important that the relevant authorities maintain the Beck to keep it clear.

– There has been serious under reporting of incidents by residents. Anglian Water assessment can only take account of the known issues.

-More houses will increase the volume of effluent in the sewer decreasing the spare capacity for rain water thereby increasing the risk of sewage egress in Low Road. This is contrary to the NPPF and Anglian’s policy of not causing disadvantage to existing customers.

Anglian will respond to written questions by the Principal Planning Officer on this issue.

PEC 25/10/2018

Foot Note

Anglian Water Amendment

New Properties with surface Water Connected to the Sewer

New properties are only permitted to connect surface water to the foul sewer network if all other methods of surface water discharge have proven to be non-viable, but for developments under 10 houses Anglian Water do not normally make comment unless requested to do so by a customer or an LPA case officer. Vincent stated that the Building Regulations would prohibit connection of the surface water drainage to the sewer, but it was pointed out that it is impossible to say that this never happens.


Previous Anglian Water Meeting

Meeting with Anglian Water – Hannah Wilson visited village for question and answer session. Report can be found here.

Also provided is a document from Anglian Water about how they fit into the planning process in Mid Suffolk, and points raised about the large developments. See more here.


Sewerage Overflows

Sewage overflow occurred on 27th Dec and again on 12th March, 31st March and 3rd April. This latter episode was featured on Look East on the 3rd April. Water was flowing a foot high from the sewer cover and at this time at least 3 sewer covers lifted. The foul water was heavily contaminated with waste food, toilet paper and human waste. This happened despite recent cleaning of the sewerage and CCTV showing satisfactory flow. Anglian Water staff visited twice during the overflow and reported that the pump was working satisfactorily. Egress form the manholes continued throughout the day. Associated flooding meant that foul water was distributed down a large part of Low Road and into some gardens. The following day a team from Anglian Water came to clear up the mess.

Although this is a long standing problem ( see lobby paper – “Lobby Paper – Fressingfield Sewerage“) this was the worst episode seen by residents in recent years. The extensive contamination is both a health hazard and unsavoury.


Saintfield Problems Lead To Building Ban.

Saintfield, NI has had similar problems to Fressingfield namely egress of foul sewerage at times of heavy rainfall. The only difference is that they seemingly have a potential solution by increasing the capacity of the sewer. We have been told by Anglian Water at a recent meeting attended by our MSDC Councillor that in Fressingfield there is no solution. A larger pipe would decrease flows at normal times and would result in increasingly bad aromas and a failure to self clean.

New housing developments have been banned in a County Down village after its sewage system reached capacity.

In recent years Saintfield has experienced a building boom and its population has nearly doubled in the past two decades.

The strain on the sewage system has led to raw sewage flowing from manhole covers on the Old Grand Jury Road after periods of heavy rain.

Northern Ireland Water has now said no more homes will be built.

Resident David Forbes said: “The sewers are lifting. There are children walking through this on their way to school. “I don’t know what could be on their shoes when they get to school or get home. Manhole covers are lifting. It is just madness.”

The full news story can be viewed on the BBC Website below:

BBC News Saintfield sewage problems lead to building ban


Letter to MSDC – Flood Risk

A letter has been sent to the Planners at MSDC regarding Flood Risk and Drainage – the document in full can found on both out Lobbying page and Other Important Documents, as well as following the link below:

Letter relating to Flood Risk


3 – Highways & Road Safety

New Highways Report – Dated 2nd November

A new Report has been publish by SCC Highways Regarding the Applications 1449/17 (Land Off Stradbroke Road), 1648/17 (Land At Post Mill Lane) and 1432/17 (Land Off John Shepherd Road). This three page report details pedestrian safety and traffic issues within the Village, following the July 2018 NPPF Draft.

The conclusion to the report is below, along with a link to the full report.

Conclusion

There are hazards to non-motorised users travelling on New Street or through Jubilee Corner. The layout of the village means that this is the desirable route to reach many services. The proposed developments will result in increased vehicle and pedestrian movements through this core area.

While it is appreciated that all three developers have contributed in finding ways to improve road safety the constraints imposed by the existing highway network severely restrict the practical options. The measures proposed are the best solution available within the existing constrains they fall short of making the highway safe for pedestrians.

While it is noted the few crashes have been recorded in this part of Fressingfield recent planning appeals have determined that weight should be given to observed conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles. It is the Highway Authority’s opinion that this is the case on New Street and Jubilee Corner if further development were approved which increased pedestrian and / or vehicle movement through the core of the village without the provision of safe, practical alternatives.

It is the Highway Authorities opinion that further traffic passing along New Street and / or through Jubilee Corner would result in an unacceptable impact on highway safety particularly for vulnerable pedestrians.

For this reason, the Highways Authority recommends that permission is refused for these applications.

The full report can be read by clicking the following link:

SCC Highways NPPF Revised Report.


Current Highways Issues

Fressingfield Cumulative Impact – Suffolk County Council

SAFE Responses:

1st SAFE response to SCC Highways Paper dated 31st July 2018

Introduction

Road safety in Fressingfield has consistently been of major concern to residents of Fressingfield with a potential for 254 extra houses in the village( the central area of the village currently has around 400 homes). SAFE has produced a number of lobby papers on highways/ road safety and the key issues have been fully explored in these papers. It is not, therefore, proposed to revisit all of the issues in detail. All of the relevant lobby papers are listed at the end of this paper and can be found on the SAFE web site.

We understand that in response to the concerns raised over road safety the “mitigation” measures proposed by the Developer have been considered further by SCC Highways and their opinion is laid out in their letter of 31st July 2018. This paper is the SAFE response to the SCC letter.

Comment on the SCC Paper

We are very pleased that SCC recognise that the there is a need to look at the cumulative impact of all five Applications in Fressingfield, BUT there is no mention of additional windfall houses, nor the high probability of an additional 110 homes in Weybread. As Weybread people will be using the Fressingfield shop, school and surgery there are significant implications for additional traffic flows into Fressingfield as well as increased parking on Fressingfield roads. Additionally there will be no increase on the very limited employment opportunities in Fressingfield, therefore most of the new residents will travel out of the village by car to work.

Policy and Guidance

Whilst the current Local Plan is rather old. It is our understanding that in Law policies
relating to transport are not out of date and should be adhered to, together with the new NPPF. Policies such as T10 are therefore relevant. The SCC paper clearly identifies the requirements under the NPPF, but fails to explore the potential for applying the policy statements to Fressingfield.

– sustainable transport not discussed. There is one bus a week , no cycle paths and private transport is the only feasible option.

– there is absolutely no discussion of the needs of disabled people. The Fressingfield population has a high proportion of elderly and a high number of wheel chair and mobility scooter users.

-there is no discussion on the safety of children. Planning permission has already been granted for a chapel and 18 houses at the end of the School Lane cul de sac. School Lane will become a through road with increased speeds and traffic. The proposed Stradbroke Road development opposite School Lane will significantly increase traffic and congestion.

– no significant discussion of the conflict between pedestrians and traffic, ( particularly in New Street) although it is stated at the conclusion “that this causes the Highway Authority some concern”

– the proposed pedestrian exit from the Post Mill development is not discussed. This path exits on a blind bend. ( although we suspect the response to the latter part of question 7 relates to this and is misnamed)

MSDC Core Strategy

The previously accepted ” target ” for new homes in Fressingfield as a primary village was 50 houses over a 10 year period. It is strange that this previously accepted formula is not stated . Under the formula in ” Right Homes Right Places” a very similar figure is arrived at.

Road Safety

The transport assessment undertaken by the developer was seriously flawed.

-it was undertaken the day after one of the main roads in the village had been closed for planned road works ( which were well publicised). Drivers would still be taking alternative routes as the completion date was not advertised.

– was not a busy time such as harvest

– did not include pedestrian trip rates

– concentrated heavily on junction capacity

We are concerned over the major overemphasis on historical accident data. There are lot of minor accidents in Fressingfield which are unreported. With a potential increase of 57% growth in the local population all using minor roads, (in many instances without pavements) we find it difficult for Highways to come to the conclusion that future safety can be extrapolated from these data. More cars will result in more accidents and there is the possibility that these minor accidents may be more major in future.

We do not agree that the proposed mitigation measures will have any material impact on overall road safety. There does not appear to be any objective evidence to support the SCC statement that ” the proposed mitigation and additional traffic flows are likely to decrease speeds, hence decrease the degree of harm.”

The proposed Coloured Road Surface and additional signage are not enthusiastically supported by SCC and we agree that it will make no difference as traffic slows at Jubilee Corner anyway because of the bend and the junction.

We believe that the response to question 8 relates to proposed pavement widening at Jubilee Corner. We have never seen a dimensioned drawing. Tractors with loads and articulated lorries already have difficulty negotiating this bend so it is hard to see how this proposal can be achieved in practical terms as the current road width will be reduced. Will the new dimensions conform with the Manual for Streets?

SCC objected to the Red House Farm Application on the grounds of pedestrian safety. We cannot understand the logic of Highways objecting to Red House while a year later not objecting to the Post Mill extension. ( both exit onto New street and are physically very close.)

Comment on the Summary

We would argue that the base line traffic data is low because the traffic study was flawed. An additional 375 cars in Fressingfield alone would seem significant! We do not agree that there are a “small ” number of HGVs. There are a significant number and also a large number of home shopping delivery vehicles. These will increase with more houses. SCC recognise the lack of footpaths and sustainable transport and see this as ” moderate to a high degree of significance in Planning terms” we would argument that the proposed increases would be ” severe” Likewise general road safety is deemed to be ” at the higher level of significance but not severe.”

There is a real issue as to the interpretation as to what constitutes a ” severe Risk” . SCC (Planning Section, Strategic, Development, Resource Management) confirmed verbally that there is no nationally agreed definition, the decision is dependent on local circumstances and is not is uniquely linked to historical accident rates. We are concerned that the SCC paper has adopted a very narrow focus in this respect.

We are pleased that the report recognises there are serious issues, but are disappointed over the overreliance on poor traffic data and historical accidents. We believe that a 57% increase in population, (taking no account of Weybread) will have a severe impact and is unsustainable in road safety terms.

For Further detailed information on all of the points discussed above please refer to the following Lobby Papers to be found on the SAFE web site:- fressingfieldhousing.org
“Fressingfield Developments- Highways and Road Safety Issues.” “Traffic in Fressingfield”
“Highways Historic Objections” ” Enhanced Child Safety Dangers.” ” Post Mill and Traffic ”
“Traffic Accidents in Fressingfield” “Traffic Issues.”
” John Shepherd & Traffic” “SCC Highways Paper Resopnse”

John and Pam Castro on behalf of SAFE 7th September 2018

Dawn Cavilla, John Kelsall, Abi Maydon, Trevor Orchard, Michael Miles, Elizabeth Manero


2nd Safe Response to Suffolk County Council Highways 

Background – This document has been produced in response to concerns raised by residents and queries from MSDC’s Planning Officer. Unfortunately, it fails to address many of the specific concerns raised on the inadequacy of the documentation provided by developers and makes a number of assertions without any evidence to support them.

The key point is whether the proposed developments are sustainable. Our contention is that they are not and the response from SCC contains nothing to refute this contention.

The errors and omissions are detailed below.

Errors and Omissions

Current Local Policy – The 4th paragraph of the Policy and Guidance section states that the Local Plan is out of date so greater weight is being given to the NPPF. This is a misstatement of the law. The Supreme Court concluded in June 20171 that it is only ‘policies for the supply of housing’ which are deemed out of date if a planning authority has not met its five year housing targets. The revised NPPF introduces a new way of calculating housing supply and need but the interpretation of when existing policies are out of date stands. This means that all MSDC’s existing policy on matters that do not relate to housing, including transport, landscape and heritage, stand, including those specified in our original document of 13.02.17.

Ignoring NPPF requirements – The SCC sets out the need to consider legal requirements to prioritise pedestrians, minimise conflict between cyclists or pedestrians , and recognise the needs of disabled people as well as locate development where it is sustainable – and then proceeds to ignore these issues.

Ignoring non-compliance of the developer documents with national guidance – our original document recited a number of respects in which the Cumulative Traffic Assessment from Create Consulting failed to comply with government guidance, in particular by failing to measure pedestrian trip rates. The SCC response ignores this lack of a baseline and fails to attempt to extrapolate how pedestrian and cyclist traffic might increase as a result of growth in the population of the village by 57%.

Road safety – Ignoring the impact of the footpath emerging onto New Street – clear photographic evidence was supplied of the poor visibility of the footpath onto New Street. The whole issue of this footpath is ignored in the document, notwithstanding that it is onto the most hazardous street in the village which is narrow, largely without footways and is within the conservation area, reducing the possibility of mitigation measures.,

As in the CTA, the assertion is made that as there has not been a heavy accident record in the village over the last 10 years, this will not change as a result of these developments. In the absence of a baseline of pedestrian trip rates as guidance requires, and an extrapolation of the impact on such trip rates of developments will which increase the population of the village by 57%, the conclusion that the impact will not be severe is not supported by fact.

Conclusion – This document

  • does not cite any evidence for its conclusion that the cumulative impact will not be severe
  • ignores road safety in New Street
  • ignores the needs of disabled people and fails to prioritise pedestrians
  • makes assertions on road safety without evidence

It is however encouraging to see that SCC considers that there are factors which inhibit sustainability are of ‘moderate to high significance’. It would be useful if this conclusion could be included in the overall recommendation, as there seems to be an irrational to conclude that the cumulative impact is not severe whilst also concluding that it is not sustainable.

Elizabeth Manero SAFE

SAFE Members – John & Pam Castro; Dawn Cavilla; John Kelsall; Abi Maydon; Michael Miles; Trevor Orchard

05.09.18


Mid Suffolk has now published a response by the developers to the Highways concerns. The full report can be seen on this web site under “Other Important Documents”

Suffolk Highways initially raised ” holding objections” to the developments on the grounds of road safety. which they have now withdrawn. The two developments already approved ( the Chapel scheme and Red House Farm) together with the housing developments proposed ( a total of 263 new houses) will result in a 57% increase of personal cars in the village. Suffolk County Council Highways Department have written a report stating that the impact of all these extra cars will not represent a “severe risk to safety” and as such not longer object to the developments. They have received “mitigation measures” from the developer for the John Shepherd site and Stradbroke Road, but have not received anything for Post Mill, although the red House Farm scheme and Post Mill proposal will result in an additional 76 cars exiting onto New Street.

What the Developer Proposes – we do not have much detail on this as only a drawing has been provide which is “draft”

  1. Resurfacing with a coloured material along the B1116 at Jubilee Corner and extending into New Street and Stradbroke Road.
  2. A road hump in New Street just after the Jubilee Junction.
  3. A block work strip at the exit of the footpath in New Street running from Back Street and a proposed ” pedestrian strip.”
  4. Minor adjustments to the Jubilee Corner junction.
  5. Increase the width of the existing footpath at Jubilee Corner. (To do this land will need to be taken from the triangle where the village sign is located)
  6. Improvements to the bus stop

The Report does not address:-

The large number of accidents in the village, the lack of footpaths , particularly in New Street . The dangers at other junctions, speeding in Harleston Hill. There is no mention of cycle routes or the needs of the disabled.

The SAFE response can be found on this web site (Highways Paper)


Recent Photographs

IMG_20180612_104330 (4)

This picture above was taken on 12 June 2018 and again shows the sort of problems which can occur in New Street, which caused serious delays.

Large Agricultural Vehicle Filling RoadThis photograph, taken recently, in mid April,  shows the continuing problems in New Street and this was not at harvest time. Roads in Fressingfield are unable to take more vehicles.

Another, pictured in early May:

Lorry2Web


Planning incentives ‘lead to housing estates centred on car use’

Transport for New Homes today published a new report looking into how homes are being developed that rely on cars due to poor access to both Public Transport and Pedestrian Infrastructure. Below is the start of the news article referencing this from The Guardian:

Planning incentives are encouraging housing developments that push residents towards “car-based living” by failing to include public transport or pedestrian infrastructure, a report has claimed.

Poor regulations allow developers to buy up cheap, almost rural locations for new housing stock, which councils are required to assess for “deliverability” while meeting national housebuilding targets and before making transport assessments, according to the report by the campaign group Transport for New Homes (TNH).

“Building new homes in fields so remote from good public transport networks, major employment hubs and services, means that sustainable transport options are perceived as limited from the start and too difficult,” the report said.

The full report from Transport for New Homes can be found by clicking the link below:

Transport for New Homes Paper (PDF)


4 – Heritage

This aspect of our of our objections has been highlighted by Historic England. Click here to see their letter, which also appears under “Other Important Documents.

The Suffolk Preservation Society has also made strong representations previously. Fressingfield has a high number of listed buildings in an historic setting and the developments will impact negatively on this.

The Implications for Fressingfield’s heritage by Applications 1449/17 (Land off Stradbroke Lane); 1648/17 (Land at Post Mill Lane) and 1432/17 Land off John Shepherd Road.

The Supreme Court Judges – in the landmark case of Hopkins Homes v Suffolk Coastal – found that planning officers and councils should be mindful of guidance in local plans and the NPPF as a whole and not isolate advice given therein. There is a common theme in both of these planning guidance documents that protecting landscape and heritage is a legal requirement and part of the sustainability test to be considered. Also given that the definition in the NPPF of sustainability is quality of life and it should be remembered that people choose to live and holiday here because of it’s rural qualities and for the quality of life they offer.

In both the NPPF and the Babergh/Mid Suffolk local plan, there are repeated legislation or guidance to protect heritage and to maintain it from being adversely affected in terms of character and setting.

Fressingfield is a national rarity having 58 listed buildings and it is their setting and that of the village as a whole which will be ruined for future generations if these inappropriate and large scale developments are granted in addition to the 52 just recently given permission. Fressingfield is a small rural village without the necessary infrastructure and sustainability to absorb large developments.

Mid Suffolk’s Conservation Area Appraisal described Fressingfield as being somewhere with ‘quality of place’, and it is indeed not just a local asset for it’s picturesque tranquillity and beauty, but a national asset bringing many tourists to the area.

There are many ancient manors and hall houses within the village including examples of early timber-framed medieval houses, and the many other listed buildings, farmhouses and cottages with their architecture in the local Suffolk vernacular style.

If these large and inappropriate developments are granted, we will loose the rural character and heritage setting of this rare medieval village. The Stradbroke Road development as just one example, will mean that this access to the village will be transformed from open countryside to a surburban housing estate of 85 homes.

As the local plan (2.2.7) states, “The District Planning authority looks to safeguard and enhance these listed buildings and their settings using statutory powers.”

However, the topography of the village means that the large developments proposed for John Shepherd Road and Post Mill are on the brow of a hill and will massively impact on the rural aspect of the whole village as viewed from Harleston Hill, the main access road into Fressingfield. This will be especially marked in winter months when the trees are not in leaf.

Policy HB1 clearly denotes the Council’s “priority on protecting the character and appearance of all buildings of historic interest. Particular attention will be given to protecting the settings of listed buildings.”

It is the same with Churches, (2.2.9) Suffolk’s many outstanding churches “form an important part of the landscape of the setting of villages” and must be preserved in accordance with this principle. The important Grade I listed Church of Saint Peter and Paul here which is famous for it’s fine Decorated and Perpendicular architecture and magnificent hammer – beam roof will be impacted negatively and significantly by the John Shepherd and Post Mill development.

The other Grade I listed building is a national treasure, as one of the only surviving raised aisle open hall house dating from circa 1330-1340. (C A Hewitt, Aisled Timber Halls and Related Buildings, 1976). It is perhaps the most “ostentatious “ example of a raised-aisled hall roof with its crown-post and triple tie beams. (Dymond, D & Martin, E, An Historical Atlas of Suffolk). It is a truly outstanding example of fourteenth century vernacular carpentry. (Hewitt, English Historic Carpentry, 1980).

As English Heritage commented on the John Shepherd application with real concern:

“The proposed development to the west of Church Farm Stable and barn would introduce modern housing beyond the established historic pattern of development and separating the historic farmstead from the fields at this point. This would result in harm to the historic significance of the Former Stables and Barn by diminishing the quality of their setting that contributes to their significance.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) identifies protection and enhancement of the historic environment as an important element of sustainable development and establishes a presumption in favour of sustainable development in the planning system (paragraphs 6, 7 and 14). Paragraph 128 of the NPPF requires applicants to describe the significance of heritage assets affected by proposed development and the contribution their setting might make to that significance.”

Policy HB8 outlines the statutory duty of the council to safeguard the character of conservation areas, protecting their character. Policy HB10 states that “The District Planning Authority will refuse advertisments that detract from the character or appearance of their surroundings.”

Our heritage includes Fressingfield’s open and rural character and it’s connection to the fields that surround it. By allowing over development, the council will go against policy H7 which protects “The existing character and appearance of the countryside” and also that of SB3 which outlines the importance of retaining visually important open spaces.

Policy H8 states that proposals should “not detract from the character and appearance of its surroundings and landscape setting.”

Policy CL1 sets out the same advice, “The landscape quality and character of the countryside will be protected for its own sake..development in the countryside should have the minimum adverse affect and should seek to positiveley contribute to its diverse character.”

The Core Strategy Focused Review 2012 (3.2) describes clearly what sustainable development (a legal requirement within the new NPPF) entails and this includes enabling people:

“To enjoy a better quality of life, without compromising the quality of life of future generations.”

This document also outlines the importance of safeguarding the environmental and landscape sensitivity of the district and maintaining its value as a heritage and tourist asset.

Core Strategy 2008 promises “A better heritage for future generations”, to safeguard the distinctive and attractive areas of Suffolk. The Objectives SO1 and SO4 of this strategy clearly set out to “protect, enhance and restore landscape..to protect, manage, enhance and restore the historic heritage/environment and the unique character” of local towns and villages, by ensuring that new developments are appropriate in terms of scale and location in the context of settlement form and character.”
The NPPF is absolutely clear that “Protecting and enhancing the historic environment is an important component of the National Planning Policy Framework’s drive to achieve sustainable development (as defined in paragraphs 6-10. The appropriate conservation of heritage assets forms one of the ‘Core Planning Principles’ (paragraph 17 bullet 10) that underpin the planning system.

The conservation of heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance is a core planning principle. Heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and effective conservation delivers wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits.”

None of the proposed developments will in any way enhance the environment in Fressingfield, quite the reverse. The proposals run contrary to all of the current guidelines relating to the protection of important heritage assets.

Abi Maydon on behalf of SAFE: 23 October 2018
SAFE Members:
John & Pam Castro
Dawn Cavilla
John Kelsall
Elizabeth Manero
Michael Miles
Trevor Orchard


5 – Deliverability and Viability

When Planning Approval is given, MSDC would expect houses to be deliverable to increase the housing stock and meet the targets for new homes.

Fressingfield is Primary/Hinterland village with limited facilities, poor infrastructure and not near a railway station or major road network.

Further major development is not sustainable and non – viable as evidenced by two sites, with Approval being unsold for over a year.


Access to the Web

Currently a great deal of information is being uploaded onto the MSDC Planning pages regarding the “Big Three” applications. In order to see them, click on the links below, then click on the Documents tab:

Application 1449/17 – Land Off Stradbroke Road

Application 1648/17 – Land At Post Mill Lane

Application 1432/17 – Land Off John Shepherd Road

On this website, anything in red text is a link to the corresponding document/pertinent  web page. All will open in a new tab/window.