A bit of history.
The GPO moved its research centre from Dollis Hill to what is now Adastral Park in the late sixties. One of the main attractions of the site was the amount of flat open land in the area which was essential for radio testing.
Over many years BT have put forward various proposals and plans to expand the business park activities. Nine years ago the first amendment to the Local Plan (dated June 2001) created a framework for expanding the business park but they did not link it to building any residential housing on the site. At the time BT forecast 3000-3500 additional jobs by about 2010 – but in reality we believe there are probably fewer people employed on the site now than in 2001.
As recently as 2007 BT said that they could develop the business park without the need for the income from selling land for housing.
The BT land
Despite what is said in the LDF and various BT documents the open land outside the BT fence IS greenfield. Farming is still carried out on some of it, and a license has been granted for mineral extraction on part. However that license requires that the land be returned to farming at the end of the extraction – the existence of extraction does not mean that it is no longer technically greenfield land.
At its closest the site comes within 88 metres of an AONB, and there are several sites of special status close by, which are home to protected species – eg Newbourne Springs. The new development will increase the local population by about 4,800 people, placing an unnecessary burden on these valuable protected wildlife sites. Proposals to employ a warden will not stop people visiting.
As recently as 2006, SCDC rejected a planning application for 120 log cabins on a site next to Waldringfield Road. The rejection was on the grounds that it was too near the AONB etc, and would result in an unacceptable increase in visitor numbers to those sensitive areas. BT objected to this application
More than 2000 houses?
In October 2008 BT wrote to the East of England Regional Assembly in response to a request for landowners to put forward further land for housing up to 2031. BT responded to this request by saying that their site could potentially accommodate up to 3000 – 3500 houses in total – ie around 8500 people – it is inconceivable that this many people would not a have major impact on the nearby natural areas.
Suffolk Coastal DC doesn’t know what to do now,
since they are waiting for more guidance from Eric Pickles. The developer is also waiting for SCDC to decide how to proceed. NANT is busy preparing for the next round of activity, which is expected in September 2010. If you want to help us, please get in touch