At least 170 people mainly from Martlesham Heath and Waldringfield attended. Slides are/will be posted on the Materials page. Click heading for more
This meeting was set up by a recently-formed local coalition named NANT (NoAdastralNewTown). Approx. 180 people attended from Martlesham & Waldringfield & other local communities, & from Ipswich, of which 171 completed a form prepared by the small NANT working group which recorded basic personal details. All who completed it asked on the form to be kept informed of progress. Of these, 22 people (13%) offered help (unspecified) to the group. Plans & diagrams of SCDC’s LDF proposal on local housing development & the associated formal procedure had been prepared in advance by members of the working group & were exhibited in poster form in the hall. The first half of the meeting (A) was a spoken presentation by members of the group summarising & adumbrating these poster details & the work of NANT. Then the meeting was open for general questioning & discussion (B) & closed by the NANT Chair’s summary.
A1 Colin Maunder, chairing the meeting, stated that SCDC proposed ‘at least 2000 houses’ on a single site to the East of Ipswich & the A12 on the area surrounding BT’s Adastral Park. In the latest public consultation which finishes on Nov 18 next comments made in previous consultations would not be taken into account. The aim of this NANT meeting was to inform participants, to find out what they thought about the proposal, to help them to get their views across to the Council, & to solicit further help for the small working group of volunteers. This was ‘the other side of the story’.
A2 Ian Kay of Waldringfield Parish Council provided relevant history, including an outline of the planning procedure. The Suffolk Coastal’s Local Plan was adopted in 1994 & altered in 2001 & 2006. In this, Policy AP212 (AP8?) relating to Ipswich Fringe was defined as ‘countryside’, which could not be built on but was protected & reserved for agriculture, horticulture & forestry. This plan was replaced by the Local Development Framework (LDF) to last til 2025, with restrictions lifted. In this the Ipswich Policy Area (IPA) covers Martlesham & Brightwell. The East of England Regional body (driven from London) specified a minimum of 1050 homes for the IPA area. Applications are tested by the Council’s planners against certain policy criteria & against the agreed LDF. If delayed til 2011 when the local LDF will be agreed & approved, then BT’s plan could go through. If approved earlier by the Council’s Cabinet it could only be an interim measure. The LDF plan is controversial & 90% have objected; only BT’s consultant David Lock who argued for 2000 houses was not ignored.
Option 1: a single site large town, was the least popular at 14% votes, Option 2: a small group of medium sites, was the most popular at 51% votes. Option 3 ‘pepper potting’ got 35% of votes.
In a later survey asking the same questions SCDC did not provide figures for the public. In fact, the least popular option (14% for a town) has been selected by the Council’s task force for the Adastral area, even though pepper potting was approved for Felixstowe/Trimleys, & no convincing rationale has since been given for the choices by Council. The LDF plan is clearly dovetailed with BT’s.
In July 2009 the specified number of homes said to be needed was increased from 1050 to 2000 with no rationale given. After local objections about due process the Council then backed down, because it was seen to infringe the correct consultation process, and arranged this second – very short – consultation period…. with fresh supporting ‘evidence’ for the LDF proposal.
The now updated ‘preferred options’ paper from SCDC initially required focused comments in the consultation on only the changes in housing numbers. A local letter objecting to this led to Chief Planning Officer at SCDC Philip Ridley conceding that comments can be more wide-ranging so long as they relate to housing numbers. Note again that the LDF proposals dovetail exactly with BT’s plans. If Cabinet then approves the LDF proposal it goes to the next stage.
The public examination stage will be towards the end of 2011 (2010?). It will be ‘independent’ of SCDC with an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State (Dept. of Communities & Local Government). The inspector’s job is to check for legal compliance and soundness, ie whether the Council has followed the correct/due process. This is the time when a good, experienced lawyer may be needed. Historically, objectors losing the case is not a foregone conclusion: of 52 proposals submitted in the past, 30 were successful, ie a 42% failure rate.
Waldringfield’s main concerns are: swamping by many more people wanting access to the pub, beach etc; overloaded road traffic; damage to the RAMSAR, AONB, SSSI and SSS sites and their threatened plant and animal wildlife.
A3 Steve Denton gave the Martlesham and Martlesham Heath (MH) perspective. The proposed scale of 2000-2500 houses, of which 33% should be ‘affordable’, means very dense housing, unlike the spacious MH development. In addition, commercial and community premises (health centre, community centre, shops, café, pub, hotel, take-away shop) will need 60,000 sq.m.space. A proposed primary school and secondary school (location unknown) will not be built at the outset so existing schools which are already at capacity will be overloaded. A park will be in the centre. The number of homes is likely to increase to 3000+ within 21 years as expansion occurs in “temporary open space” near the Waldringfield golf course at the eastern end of the proposed site.
Traffic forecasts: a huge increase is inevitable & some 40-50% higher than current levels at peak times. (BT’s forecast is noticeably lower than this). SCDC’s forecasts are heavily qualified, with statements such as: “no new survey” will be made, “no formal modelling” is necessary, but “it is not yet possible to identify a comprehensive schedule of mitigation …”. There is a “large range of uncertainties”. Note they have to say it’s ‘sustainable’.
The changes planned for the A12 will make it look like the A10 at Enfield, north London, ie:
- 7-lane junctions with traffic lights; compulsory purchase of land would be likely for junction widening
- New access off Waldringfield Road
- Major changes to Martlesham Heath
- More road noise, lighting, pollution
- Cycle and pedestrian links, with a footbridge over the A12, which would need compulsory purchase from MHHL, making MHeath a corridor/rat run by cyclists and with pedestrians travelling through narrow alleyways.
SCDC’s so-called ‘Integration Strategy’ is confused & contradictory. A “new community’’ is proposed that’s ‘‘alongside but not overwhelming’’ of other local communities. It isproposed to “integrate the development’’ with the remainder of Martlesham but as a “stand alone community’’. But, Martlesham is an award-winning community, sympathetically-designed with low impact, & high community spirit, whereas BT’s plan is a high impact urban development with up to 6 storey high buildings intended to be visible from the A12 as a PR statement which will not blend into the countryside or healthland setting.
A4 Prue Denton summarised NANT, including details of its own recently-introduced questionnaire survey of local residents. NANT’s position is that a small development is acceptable, & a large single development like that proposed is in the wrong location. Valid reasoned objections have to be raised by everyone. The unacceptable & flawed nature of SCDC’s ‘consultation’ process needs to be raised also. The ‘Freedom of Information Act’ could be used to obtain relevant information from SCDC. All public responses will be useful to the Public Enquiry, if ignored by SCDC. Parish Councils also need to know opinions & views of members of the public.
The NANT survey (see NANT website) of about 20 questions is intended to collect, collate & summarise local views before sending to SCDC. It is also intended to enlist community support. So far, 83 people have attempted it & 60% of the questionnaires are completed. Also, 38 people offered help. Most responses were from Waldringfield, then Martlesham & MH.
- B. Open Discussion Summary (Individual names have been excluded)
* A request for a template/model letter was discouraged. Council will discount letters which follow this kind of format & will treat as a single letter. They are interested in content, as well as the quantity.
* Help is needed in reading & extracting from LDF docs. (The request that NANT highlight key doc. paras. on their website was agreed).
*What is the scope for objections, numbers of houses, or area, both?
* Since the last consultation’s evidence, it is important to focus on the fresh evidence presented in the latest docs. (Could this be listed on the website?)
* It’s tricky to refer to this evidence, but can be done & we shouldn’t be put off. Should include wider issues in objecting, not just housing numbers, insofar as they are related – in light of the evidence. Say what you think.
* SCDC’s docs., unlike BT’s, are vague
* Someone in SCDC decreed Option 1 (see above) as ‘least sustainable’??? – whatever that means
*The effect on local schools is important. The number of pupils from such a new town could not justify new school building but existing schools could not accommodate extra pupils either.
* People’s objections need to be emailed to the website asap for all to read – it has an objections page with how to respond
* Locals in Martlesham & Woodbridge generally don’t seem to be alert to the potential impact on them of this LDF plan. How do we make Woodbridgers aware of what’s about to hit them? We need an EADT spread.
* Like Waldringfield, MH parish council objects to the plan.
* Why was the Felixstowe/Trimley allocation reduced & pepper-potted, & not Martlesham, despite protests?
*SCDC seem to be using a ‘divide & rule’ tactic with local communities.
* It will have a significant impact on Waldringfield, especially traffic connecting with Woodbridge.. Melton & Trimleys are mentioned, but not Woodbridge.
* Many said they wrote several pages of objections last time which were ignored. How can we prevent this happening again?
* The presence of the Chair who is from Felixstowe at the relevant meetings is inappropriate, while other local councillors from affected constituencies are not represented. Why are local councillors not sufficiently involved in decisions?
* Elected councillors are very active & involved & do speak, having objected vociferously from the outset
* SCDC are appalling & it’s difficult to get heard. A public enquiry would be a good forum for us. SCDC haven’t done their homework
* It is essential to get a good lawyer, & to start fund-raising now. A figure of £50,000 might be needed, but that’s a possibility judging by the numbers at this meeting
* What steps can be taken to deal with councillors who are misbehaving?
* A ‘direct action’ campaign attracts good publicity eg large numbers attending a planning committee meeting
* There will be waste removal implications. A completely new plant will be needed, a new electric substation, & additional land required.
* Linear development from Felixstowe to Melton?… all should write in about the need to prohibit building alongside/near to the river.
* Residents at the new site can work elsewhere in the policy area, according to SCDC, therefore it’s not a sustainable plan
* Local public transport is already over-stretched,- plan will not be as adequate as claimed
* A petition is one action, but will need many signatures
NANT Chair’s Final Summary
Everyone is urged to respond by Nov 18 to the SCDC ‘s ‘Housing Distribution Consultation’.
* Start each comment/objection with a 100 word summary.
* Make it clear which para. you are commenting on. (They are not counting objections, as such)
*There are 400 pp to read, but don’t give in to ‘consultation fatigue’! There could be a division-of-labour with individuals in the community working on different sections.
Sally Redfern & Pat Shipley, Waldringfield