The decision on whether to allow eight flats to be built in Haverhill town centre was delayed until after a site visit after opposition from councillors.
Havebury Housing Partnership has applied to build eight flats with four ground floor garages in Lower Downs Slade, and despite being recommended for approval looked set to be rejected by St Edmundsbury Council at last Thursday’s (February 6) development control committee.
Concerns were expressed about the danger of cars reversing out over a pavement near a turn in the road, and the sense in having a set of garages opposite a council-owned car park.
Such concerns had already seen the decision delayed from the December meeting, and the revised plans had widened the garages and reduced them from six to four.
Cllr Gordon Cox said they should be rejected as drivers would have to use a remote to open the garage door while at the wheel, which he said was akin to driving using a mobile phone and thus illegal.
Agent Andy Butcher said the flats would all be affordable housing and would ‘provide important benefits for Haverhill’, adding that if approved they would be finished by 2015.
A Suffolk County Council representative said the revised plans offered ‘the best solution’, and added: “There’s a big difference between driving while using your mobile phone and pressing a button to open a garage.”
Cllr Maureen Byrne said: “We want to thank Havebury for their commitment to affordable homes and it’s not often we have a dispute with them.
“On this occasion the town council is very concerned that the access to the site is dangerous.
“If people are reversing out there’s a genuine safety concern, and it’s disappointing that this hasn’t been addressed in the review and we haven’t found a solution.
“I would rather someone get a ticket for illegal parking than someone reverse out and hit someone and we have a fatality.”
Cllr Anne Gower expressed concerns that it was on a bend in the road and atop a raise.
Cllr Stefan Oliver said it was not a through road and that the design of first-floor garages should be supported.
Cllr Alaric Pugh said: “I particularly hate examples where the general public are justifiably right in thinking we look like idiots.
“Everyone will see a development with garages opposite a large car park and it beggars belief.”
Cllr Robert Everitt said: “I find it odd that people imagine pedestrians and car drivers are incapable of missing each other in close proximity.
“If that’s the case we shouldn’t allow any town houses and it beggars belief that your view is that people can’t walk and drive safely together.”
As part of the development the existing pavement to Queen Street would be widened to be between 1.6 and 2.2 metres.
With it looking like the plans would be rejected it was proposed that a decision be made after a site visit, which 12 voted for and one against.
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (February 20) Echo.