Stradbroke Parish Council "divided against itself" on Grove Farm

The Diss Express report of Stradbroke Parish Council's vote on the proposed Grove Farm development makes interesting reading. A split council narrowly voting 6-5 in favour. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the council on either side of the debate. Public opinion split (50/50 according to the Chairman).

I think there is much truth in this although I would personally put the opposition quite a bit higher, but that could just be bias on my part. What is certainly true is that the proposal as presented (54 houses) is deeply divisive.

But Vice-Chairman Olly Last's comment to the Diss Express shows that this did not have to be the case. Olly says that:
I would have liked to have seen a smaller development on that site in line with what had been previously proposed to the council in discussions that date back a number of years, and wait for the Neighbourhood Plan to be in place, to getter a better deal for the village via the new Community Infrastructure Levy.
The fact is that we could have worked together to build consensus on this development. I mentioned this in my Blog post Can the parish council build consensus on development in Stradbroke back in December. The smaller development that was spoken about over the previous years could probably have commanded unanimous support both on the council and in the village.

In fact I think if people thought that there was a choice then very few people indeed would support a 54 house development. The support this has is based on a false premise that there is no alternative. 54 houses or nothing at all. Affordable housing or nothing.

This looks like pure opportunism by landowners and developers to me. A District Council desperate to meet a shortfall in its "housing land supply" (ie it has to build more houses to keep the government off its back) and a parish council that has its eye off the ball.

Sadly many people seem to have come to believe that the Grove Farm development is inevitable and is going to go ahead whatever happens. The danger is this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The case still hasn't been decided and we need to make a clear case to Mid Suffolk that this development as proposed is unsustainable.

The Case will now come to Mid Suffolk's Planning Referrals Committee who could still decide to reject the proposal in its current form. Such a decision still leaves the door open to a future more scaled back and more sustainable proposal.

There is still (just) time to have your say on this proposal, see the article on the Stradbroke Village Website that explains how to do this. Comments need to be made by Tuesday 21st April. UPDATE the consultation has now been extended until Friday 15th May

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