SPS along with many residents of Lowestoft have responded to a public consultation exercise regarding proposals for the redevelopment of the redundant Lowestoft Railway Station. An iconic building in the conservation area, it has languished, derelict, for over 50 years. While the prospect of bringing the building back into sustainable use as a community space is very welcome, the proposed roof top extension has raised significant concern by residents and community groups alike. The SPS, together with the Lowestoft Society, has expressed serious concerns about the scale, design and visual impact of the large roof top addition. We hope that the promoters of the scheme will listen to the feedback and go back to the drawing board.
SPS has commented on plans for six dwellings in the heart of the conservation area. We expressed concerns regarding the principle of building on this site which has historically contributed to the character of the conservation area. However, noting that the principle had been accepted by the heritage team at Babergh, we raised concerns regarding the parking associated with the five smaller properties and the design and siting of a large single storey dwelling behind a listed cottage.
SPS has objected to an application for the erection of five dwellings in the grounds of Flempton House, a grade II 19th century former rectory. The outline application has the potential to impact upon the setting of up to 6 designated heritage assets, including Flempton Conservation Area. The application was not supported by a Heritage Impact Assessment, as required by national and local policy, and the level of detail relating to scale, materials and landscaping was insufficient to make the necessary assessment of potential heritage impact
SPS responded to a revised scheme which removed the previously proposed large café and community room extension from the front of this elegant classical 19th century non-conformist chapel. Instead, the proposal seeks to convert existing buildings to the rear of the site to meet the ambitions of the church. SPS was pleased to be able to support this more sensitive approach which preserves the character and appearance of the Eye Conservation Area
Erwarton Hall – application for barn conversions refused
The long-awaited decision on the application to convert barns into 5 dwellings close to grade II* listed Erwarton Hall and its grade I listed gatehouse was received in August. This application has taken over two years to be determined since a first application for seven dwellings was refused, but the planning committee at Babergh has finally resolved to refuse permission due to the harm that would result on these important heritage assets and the impact upon the AONB.
Pin Mill – plans for two storey 5 bedroom and 3-bedroom dwellings withdrawn
SPS had objected to the scheme design as due to the elevated position of the site, and their scale, the new dwellings would be highly visible both from Pin Mill and the river. A large amount of glazing and balconies were proposed and light spill would have a detrimental impact on the special qualities of the AONB. Views from the Conservation Area would also be negatively impacted. We look forward to the submission of a more appropriate scheme.
SPS’ response to Ofgem consultation
SPS responded to Ofgem’s minded-to decision and draft impact assessment on the initial findings of the Electricity Transmission Network Planning Review in tandem with CPRE, Central Office. The consultation sought views on the proposed Centralised Strategic Network Planning model and process (CSNP). We support a process that maximises the opportunities to mitigate harm to landscapes and affected communities, and welcome references to community impacts of new infrastructure and the emphasis on the need to recognise the valid concerns of affected communities if consent is to be forthcoming. However, the consultation gave no comfort for those which are faced with projects that are already in flight. Secondly, it was not clear how this could be reconciled with the anticipated revised National Planning Statements which are likely to give even greater weight to speeding up delivery of a decarbonised grid. Finally, we called for greater recognition of the views and priorities of local stakeholders to bring about increased transparency when engaging with communities.
Commercial solar farms – an update
SPS has responded to a number of amended solar schemes. The ENSO scheme around Flowton is much reduced with the northern half of the original site now removed from the plans. The Badley Hall scheme has also been reduced in size, with the boundary closest to the church and other heritage assets moved back. The Loudham Park scheme at Wickham Market has also been revised but only to widen a footpath which runs through middle of site. Meanwhile, after a two-month delay in the proceedings, the preliminary hearings for the Sunnica solar energy scheme recommenced at the end of September.
SPS has commented on a planning application for proposed additional infrastructure required to support the transmission of electricity to the grid to be sited adjacent to the future substation at Yaxley. We have requested more evidence of the site selection process and justification for siting this significant industrial structure in open countryside in preference to a site on the nearby airfield at Eye.
SPS Members’ afternoon treat at Bawdsey Manor
On Saturday 24 September SPS hosted an event at Bawdsey Manor. Jules Pretty, Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex and Director of the Centre for Public and Policy Engagement, spoke about his latest book ‘SEA SAGAS OF THE NORTH – TRAVELS AND TALES AT WARMING WATERS’ about refugees who fled Doggerland when the seas encroached and related this to the current climate crisis and the steps we can all take.
Before enjoying tea in the Manor, Members also had the opportunity to tour the gardens which are included on Historic England’s At Risk register of Parks and Gardens with Patricia Shepherd from the Suffolk Gardens Trust.
Details for SPS events for 2023 are being finalised and will be available on the website soon.
East Anglian Daily Times SPS Director’s opinion piece 10 August Protect farm land to boost food security
East Anglian Daily Times SPS Director’s column 30 September Review Strategy to meet Net Zero Ambitions