Plans to build up to 200 new homes on land currently saved for industrial use have won the backing of Haverhill Town Council.
The council, which does not give planning permission but does offer an opinion to decision-makers, St Edmundsbury Borough Council, first heard of the plans in October before an outline application was made at the end of last year, which is expected to have been decided upon by March.
The plans for the Bumpstead Road site within Haverhill Business Park have been put forward by Carisbrooke Suon Developments, and won the support of town councillors at last Tuesday’s (January 7) planning committee meeting at the arts centre.
The ‘Helions Meadow’ scheme would see the empty plot developed with around 140 open market homes and up to 60 affordable ones, which is achievable as infrastructure is already in place.
Haverhill mayor Roger Andre said: “The evidence of a substantial surfeit of land for employment use in Haverhill, without the Bumpstead Road site, is overwhelming, and unlike most designated employment sites this one does lend itself to a residential use.
“The proposal offers a much needed range of homes, from one bedroom to four bedroom, at a location adjacent to existing housing associated with established routes to the town and proximity to employment sites.
“With the potential to deliver up to 200 homes within the next 18 months, this proposal will contribute to meeting our community needs for appropriate housing with opportunities for those affected by the bedroom tax to free up much needed larger homes.
“The developer has an impressive track record in delivering such projects in Haverhill.”
Nic Rumsey, director at Carisbrooke Investments, had said the firm had been unsuccessfully trying to sell the land for industrial use for the last 15 years and had now decided to push for the homes.
“I was delighted that the town council felt able to support the application following its own consideration of the proposals at its meeting,” he said.
“I look forward to now seeing the application progress through the planning process.
“Given the current local need that exists for new homes, especially affordable housing, and in light of the sustained lack of interest from potential commercial occupiers to date, we consider our proposals to be logical and in-line with Government policy.
“These proposals would deliver further investment in the town whilst creating valuable jobs in the construction of the much-needed new homes.
“In addition to the town council’s support, feedback already received on the proposals is also encouraging, with immediate neighbours and the chamber of commerce both recognising the merits of the scheme.”
While the land is presently earmarked for employment uses, recent changes in Government policy mean that long-standing vacant sites, such as the Bumpstead Road one, now need to be constantly reviewed and developed with alternative uses, where possible.
The plans currently with St Edmundsbury Council are in outline form at this stage, in effect seeking agreement on the principle of the housing proposals.
If approved, further detailed information will have to be provided by Carisbrooke before any works can take place.
At this stage, it is expected that a final decision on the application will be reached by St Edmundsbury Council in March.
A lorry park would be provided opposite the site to save lorries waiting to access Culina, and previously Mr Rumsey said he was aware of ‘unacceptable’ and ‘anti social behaviour’ of some drivers waiting on the road, such as urinating, after complaints from the Days Inn hotel, which he also owns.
For anyone with any questions about the proposals, Carisbrooke’s project team can be reached directly on 0800 2987040.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, January 16) Echo.