The SPS team is continuing to scrutinise planning matters across the county as we primarily work from home.  The following is an overview of our work and involvements in the past month including  links to our representations.

Key involvements in April:

National Grid upgrade to the Bramford to Twinstead line, – proposals out to public consultation – National Grid are consulting on its renewed plans to upgrade the existing electricity transmission network to include an additional 400kV pylon line in place of the existing smaller 132kV line. Limited sections of the new transmission line are proposed to be placed underground and accompanying sealing end compounds will be required at each end of an underground section. SPS has responded calling for a greater extent of undergrounding to better safeguard the special qualities of the AONB and the Stour Valley Project Area including its setting. The proposals miss a wider opportunity to remove some of the wirescape which currently blights communities, harms the setting of heritage assets and impacts large areas of Suffolk countryside.   In supporting the Nation’s current and future energy requirements, Suffolk is being disproportionately affected in terms of the combined environmental impact of onshore infrastructure including substations, cables, solar farms and pylons routes and SPS has called for funding to be made available to fully mitigate the impact of the proposals on Suffolk’s landscapes, its heritage and the communities expected to host these schemes.

Parham, 49W solar farm – adjoining the existing solar farm on the former RAF airfield. SPS support the use of brownfield land and the generation of renewable energy and therefore was pleased to support the scheme in principle. However, we raised concerns about the northern most parcel of land, known as zone 1, which was located beyond the area which had been badly affected during the 1940s airfield development and post war period, on a surviving historic landscape close to heritage assets. SPS called for the northern portion of the site to be removed from the proposals, or alternatively the harmful impacts mitigated by reducing the extent of the panels and increasing levels of screening.

Felixstowe, Deben High School redevelopment – an exemplar housing scheme? – SPS has commented on the residential element of East Suffolk Council’s redevelopment of the Deben High School site to include 45 apartments and 16 houses with a high proportion of affordable housing.  SPS supported the redevelopment of this brownfield site in a highly sustainable location and welcomed the retention of the school’s assembly hall to be used as a community building.  Local opinion is divided on the design approach, but SPS supported the high-quality contemporary design of the 2 and 3 storey blocks which will create a distinct sense of place and incorporates community open spaces and a number of sustainable energy measures. We are however urging that the viability of this potentially exemplar scheme is firmly established in order to avoid dilution quality at a later stage.  SPS’ support is dependent on the scheme being delivered in its entirety including the choice of materials, sustainable energy measures and the provision and management of the proposed landscaping areas. These need to be delivered in full if the quality and the spirit of the development are to be successfully achieved.   

image:East Suffolk Council

Clare, new dwelling, Nethergate Street – SPS has raised concerns about the introduction of a single new dwelling into a domestic garden which forms an important open space within the Clare Conservation Area.  Although the vehicular access to the property and the scale and design of the scheme is improved on a previous refused application, SPS has maintained its objection due to the importance of the open space to the character of the conservation area and the setting of numerous nearby listed buildings.

Outcomes of interest to SPS:

Haughley Park – housing development Appeal dismissed. SPS welcomes the recent decision to dismiss an appeal against the refusal of plans for 120 dwellings on the site of the redundant poultry processing plant within the parkland of Haughley Park, a grade 1 listed Jacobean mansion. The Appeal was dismissed due to its unsustainable location; highway safety; heritage impact; and impact on the wedding and events business at Haughley Park.  Haughley Park Ltd appeared at the Inquiry as a ‘rule 6 party’ allowing them to sit alongside the Appellant and Mid Suffolk DC on an equal footing and successfully argues that the proposals would threaten the ongoing success of their weddings and events business. SPS has consistently called for applications for housing on this site to be refused due to the impact on the setting of Haughley Park mansion; the only access to the new housing estate being through the parkland close to the mansion and the wholly unsustainable location of the site, remote from any services.

Cockfield, The Three Horseshoes Inn – second application for housing turned down – following the refusal of an outline application for up to 4 dwellings to the rear of the listed Inn, an amended full application for two 5 bedroom houses was submitted.  The refusal is welcomed as SPS had continued to resist the proposals which would obscure the long views through to the countryside beyond the Inn and the proposals are contrary to the distinct linear pattern of the cluster of buildings.

Ramsholt – application for a campsite in the AONB refused – SPS had raised concerns regarding this application for a campsite within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty due to  the impacts on the landscape and the introduction of lighting and human activity into this remote tranquil location.

Boxford – successful judicial review against housing development consent – Boxford Parish Council has successfully challenged Babergh District Council’s approval for 64 dwellings on the edge of the village. The High Court decided that BDC had acted unlawfully in part of the approval process by failing to secure the community building, which had been part of the committee’s resolution, in a S106 agreement.  The application will now be redetermined later in the year.

Layham, Marquis of Cornwallis – alterations and extensions to create a wedding venue approved. SPS had objected to the original scheme for extensions to the grade II listed inn due to their dominate scale which would harm the significance of the heritage asset. SPS also raised concerns over the impact of the extended formal gardens and carparking in long views across the Brett Valley.  To reduce the impact of the new elements on the listed building, we had called for a reduction in scale and greater modelling and articulation of the roofline to better reflect the sloping site.The application has now been approved after some improvements to the design of the new elements had been secured.

Also of interest:

photo: Mat Fascione

Sizewell C – Examination underway.  The Examination Process into the new nuclear reactors at Sizewell C has begun. A timetable for the Examination was released at the end of April which indicates that the process will continue through to October.  SPS continues to monitor the process and support local campaign groups whenever possible, but we will not be appearing as an Interested Party due to the significant resource commitment required.

We have received confirmation from EDF that they are working closely with stakeholders, including the Councils, AONB Partnership and Historic England, to consider the issues that SPS has previously raised in regards to Sizewell C’s impact on the natural and the historic environment.

Dedham Vale Management Plan 2021-2026 – The AONB Partnership is required to regularly update its management plans for Suffolk’s AONB areas. These are statutory documents which will inform decision making in the designated areas. An updated version of the plan for the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley area has recently been out for public consultation and more information is available on the Partnership’s website.


The Lie of the Land – SPS Director responds to the question ‘How do we protect our natural environment’ in an interview with SPS, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the AONB Partnership and Savills. East Anglian Daily Times 26 April 2020