Vince Pearce (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the new Principal Planning Officer dealing with the three major Applications in Fressingfield. (He is not dealing with the Weybread Application). He is a very experienced Planner having worked on the Kings Cross Development in London and subsequently in Essex, before transferring to Mid Suffolk.
SAFE Meeting: Mr. Pearce asked to meet with John and Pam Castro and Elizabeth Manero as representatives of SAFE, this took place on 29th May. He made it very clear that his role was to listen to our comments. We discussed the issues of concern to Villagers and the lack of sustainability. The topics included flooding, sewerage, education, healthcare, public transport, lack of local employment and the cumulative effect of the agreed and proposed housing developments. The impact of the proposed additional housing in Weybread was also considered. The full range of issues is shown in the Lobby Papers on the SAFE website
The recent Highways Report and particularly its short comings were discussed in detail. We stressed the suggested modifications did not solve the fundamental problems in Fressingfield. There was special emphasis that the visibility from the proposed footpaths was dangerous and we also pointed out that the accident data was inaccurate and selective.
When talking about process we raised concerns that the traffic analysis undertaken by the Developer failed to look at the current and predicted pedestrian movements and safety risks. We raised that matter of Mid Suffolk 5 year land supply for housing, but the final data on this are not yet available. We asked why the request for an Environmental Impact Study has been refused and why the Heritage Officers have not been fully consulted over the changes in a Conservation Area?
We had an extensive walk around the village looking at areas of concern, the serious “pinch points” as well as the visibility problems on existing and proposed pedestrian footpaths. We visited the bus shelter. The area of flooding and egress of sewage were discussed and viewed.
We felt that this was a very useful meeting, which lasted almost tow and a half hours. Mr. Pearce agreed that certain areas of concern would be investigated further.
Parish Council Meeting – with open forum, took place on 5th June. Mr Pearce was in attendance. Despite short notification of this meeting there was good attendance with approximately 100 members of the public present, together with the Parish Councillors.
The meeting opened with Garry Deeks giving a lengthy outline of the Parish Council’s position, which focused on the lack of infrastructure in the village. He confirmed that the draft National and Local Planning Guidance suggested that the building of 6 to 7 houses per annum was appropriate for Fressingfield.
Mr. Pearce then made a statement:-
He made it clear that he was attending the meeting to listen to the concerns of residents. His focus would be transparency in decision making.
He would be looking at all three Applications with a fresh pair of eyes.
He reported that he had held three separate meetings. One with Garry Deeks, one with a Developer and the other with representatives of SAFE (reported above). He has now visited the village on five separate occasions.
He recognised that speeding and road safety issues were a key issues for the village, and he understood the concern that the traffic survey undertaken was too narrow and for too short a period.
At this point he felt he had insufficient information to write a comprehensive report on the Applications for the District Councillors. Particularly he has asked Suffolk Highways to investigate further and his request to Highways will be available on the Mid Suffolk Website, under the pertinent applications. Because of the need for further work the Applications would not be heard in July. He hoped that they would be considered on 1st August (subsequent to the meeting this date has not been confirmed) and then be referred to the Referrals Committee later in August.
The Developers have been requested to amend the site layouts as the current designs are poor. This request did not mean that any decision had been reached over these developments, but in order to achieve good design such issues would have to be raised now.
Mr. Pearce stressed that the key issue when considering all Applications was whether the additional houses would be sustainable.
Questions were then invited from the villagers. A wide range of questions emerged. Key points are as follows:
- The cumulative impact studies will include all three Applications together with the 55 houses approved, but not yet built together with the potential 110 houses at Weybread.
- The affordable housing elements would not be reserved for local people, but would be allocated on a points basis to anyone out of the area on the list.
- Both the Planning Meeting and the Referrals Committee will be open to the public. (Dates to the confirmed later).
- The current position on Mid Suffolk meeting its target for new homes would be available in mid June.
- There was significant anger from villagers when the son of one of the Developer’s robustly defended his Father’s Application without declaring his interest.
Members of SAFE were present, but deliberately did not speak as time was limited and we wished to give opportunity for others to raise issues we had already had a lengthy and detailed meeting with Mr. Pearce.
Alex Day gave a short presentation on the current status of the Neighbourhood Plan.
Update on the “Fressingfield Three” From Principal Planning Officer Vincent Pearce
The following is an email update to SAFE from Principle Planning Officer Vincent Pearce regarding the “Fressingfield Three” applications on 29th July 2018 (also available as a PDF by clicking here)
Good evening John & Pam
Many apologies for not getting in touch with you sooner with an update on the ‘Fressingfield Three’ I have been liaising with Lavinia [Cllr Hadingham] and I am certain word is getting round one way or another.
The fact that Mid Suffolk District Council is now, since the recent publication of the Annual Monitoring Report [AMR] 2017 – 2018, able to demonstrate that it has a 5-year housing land supply will be a material consideration in my assessment of the merits of the ‘Fressingfield Three’
I say this because within the terms of the NPPF the Council will no longer be required to apply the ‘tilted balance’ when determining residential development proposals which skewed favour towards granting permission based on the shortfall of housing land.
We are therefore back to a plan-led planning system in so far as the Council can demonstrate that it has an ‘up-to-date’ Adopted Development Plan.
Now with its Adopted Local Plan of 1998 being the current Local Plan I must accept that we do not have an up-to-date local plan. The Focussed Review Core Strategy is less out of date.
In my view this means that the Council cannot rely on its Local Plan and needs to assess planning applications in the context of Government advice in paragraph 11 of the Revised NPPF  [was paragraph 14 of the previous NPPF]
“For decision takers this means where
…the policies which are most important for determing the application are out-of-date, granting permission unless
(I) The application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a clear reason for refusing the development proposed, or,
(ii) Any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole”
In terms of my assessment of the merits of the applications judged against all material planning considerations I have yet to receive definitive replies from the highway authority and drainage authority in respect of the detailed questions I raised with them. [details as previously discussed and shared online]. I believe those answers will be important [but not necessarily decisive] to the overall consideration of the proposals.
I am of course also required to assess the merits of the proposals against Government advice within the Revised NPPF  that relates to sustainable development. I am currently continuing to make those assessments ahead of writing my report.
As yet I am unable to indicate which Development Management Committee the cases will be referred to because I have not yet drafted them.
As and when the position becomes clearer I shall email you again.
Reason for Delay
The three Applications were submitted in April 2017 and as of September 2018 a date for them to be heard by the Planning Committee has not been confirmed.
The major cause of this delay has been issues of sustainability which have been highlighted and required investigation. These issues will be found throughout the web site, particularly in the “Lobbying Section“.
The major current issues are highways safety and flooding & sewerage.
Suffolk Archaeology has also asked for further information.
Cranswick, the owners of the Chicken Factory at Weybread have received Planning Permission to develop a new factory on the Eye Industrial Estate and have applied for 110 new homes to be built on the site in Weybread. No decision on this housing application has yet been made. There is concern that this will increase the strain on services in Fressingfield with more people using the school, Medical Centre and roads. There is already an issue over the capacity of the sewer where it is pumped to Weybread.
It may appear as if nothing has been happening in respect of these major Applications for houses in our village. We know from talking to many of you at the time of the Petition, the formal objections many of you sent to Mid Suffolk and the high level of attendance at the public meetings that there are major and widespread concerns over these very large developments.
We, as a community, need to have our voice heard and SAFE is taking an active role in this. When the date for the Planning Committee is known we will make sure that this is widely publicised.
Actions Undertaken By SAFE
SAFE organised and arranged the posters in the village to limit development. We instigated public meetings, wrote lobbying papers and encouraged others to do so. We will circulate details of the Planning Committee Meeting and arrange transport, once the date is finalised. Articles have been written for Six Sense to keep the village informed.