National Grid East Anglia GREEN consultation
SPS has submitted its response to the non-statutory consultation on National Grid’s proposed 180km 400kv pylon line from Norwich to Tilbury.
In our response we called for a fully coordinated, offshore solution to protect our countryside and communities and to minimise onshore infrastructure in Suffolk. We raised concerns regarding the timing of this consultation in advance of the publication of the Holistic Network Design, and an updated Network Options Assessment due later this month and urged that the consultation be extended to reflect the very real chance of fundamental changes in the policy framework against which this scheme is being consulted on.
SPS considers that the current proposals will result in significant landscape and heritage harm that will impact negatively on communities, tourism and the wider economy of Suffolk.
We agreed with the Suffolk MPs, Suffolk County Council, Babergh Mid Suffolk Councils and other stakeholders that there is a need for clarity from National Grid around the possible alternative options of a strategic, coordinated offshore solution. We share the concern of many that alternatives to the proposed pylon line have not been clearly set out, or the reasons that they have been rejected, fully explained.
Tattingstone, extensions to estate cottages – SPS has objected to an application for listed building consent for rear extensions which we consider will detract from the special interest of a good example of small, workers cottages associated with the Tattingstone Estate, located within the AONB. While the SPS supports the investment in the cottages, which are in an advanced state of disrepair, the extent of the proposed works will harm their significance. We have suggested that the scheme is limited to single storey side and rear extensions, removing the first-floor elements and the linking section to avoid a loss of character. We also called for a more conservative approach to the internal elements, including retaining the staircases, and limiting the loss of historic fabric.
SPS has also responded to additional drawings submitted in support of an application for two new dwellings in Pin Mill, and to significant changes to extensions to a cottage in Shotley.
Walberswick – development next to grade I listed St Andrew’s church. SPS has called for a Heritage Impact Assessment of proposals to significantly extend a dwelling adjacent to Walberswick parish church. SPS has welcomed the reduced scale of the current application which follows previous proposals for two 2storey dwellings on the site. Nevertheless concerns regarding the glazing remain and we have urged that all the impacts of the current proposals upon the setting of the church are fully assessed.
Commercial solar farm developments
ENSO scheme significantly reduced
Plans submitted to Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council in December 2020 were for a 102 hectare solar farm consisting of a northern parcel between Somersham and Flowton and a southern parcel between Flowton and Burstall. ENSO has recently announced that the northern section is to be removed from the scheme which will reduce the area of agricultural land covered in solar panels to 35 hectares. A public information day on the revised scheme took place on 28 June and SPS will review the revised scheme once a new or revised application is submitted.
Delay to Sunnica application
Sunnica, the company behind the proposed solar energy park on the West Suffolk border, has been granted a delay in their Development Consent Order application to explore a new grid connection option as their preferred options, at Burwell in East Cambridgeshire, are no longer viable. Therefore, there is a currently an additional consultation on a new grid connection option but we understand from the local campaign group, Say No To Sunnica, that very few details or visualisations of what is being proposed are available.
On 8th June James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, held a debate in the House of Commons on the topic of solar farms and battery storage. Gray, and other MPs in the debate, argued that brownfield rather than greenfield sites should be the focus of solar developments. He set out a range of measures intended to restrict the development of solar developments on agricultural land.
Responding on behalf of the government, junior housing minister Eddie Hughes said that the government’s recent energy security strategy had set a “clear ambition for a fivefold increase in deployment of the UK’s solar capacity, up to 70 GW, by 2035” and disappointingly suggested that he was content that the current ratio of 50:50 between fields and roofs is likely to continue.
Petition calling for a regulatory framework for commercial solar farms:
– there is currently a policy conflict where Government seeks to protect and enhance our domestic production to maintain food security whilst also encouraging the growth of solar energy production. New ground-mounted solar developments must be subject to increased regulation to ensure that they do not undermine UK food security, which could result in increasing food costs.
The petition is online and is available to be signed online before July 24th : Petition: Produce a Farmland Protection Policy to regulate the loss of farmland to solar
We are pleased to report that SPS has secured a further £50k funding through our sister charity CPRE, The Countryside Charity to enable a second phase of hedgerow planting in the Stour Valley. The planting will be delivered by the Stour Valley Farm Cluster, following the first phase earlier this year.
Felixstowe, White Horse Inn – saved from demolition. SPS supported local objections to proposals to demolish this building and replace with an uninspiring scheme comprising a convenience store and housing. We urged that the inn be considered as a non-designated heritage asset and called for a Heritage Assessment to be provided to understand its value. This was provided and confirmed that the White Horse was designed by Thomas Cotman, an important local architect. We were therefore very pleased to learn that the application was refused by East Suffolk Council.
Brantham – housing development adjacent to the church – application withdrawn. SPS was pleased to learn that following a site visit from Historic England, an application for 127 houses has been withdrawn. SPS has consistently objected to this scheme which would negatively impact the setting of Brantham parish church, a grade II* listed building, and the newly extended Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB by bringing a housing development up to the new boundary.
Sproughton – application for housing north of Burstall Road – an application for housing on a site to the rear of the Wild Man public house has been withdrawn after the Babergh planning committee unanimously voted to refuse the proposals against planning officers’ recommendation to approve the scheme. The application was first considered in late 2020 when the committee was minded to approve the proposals but the committee’s latest decision reflects the abeyance of the emerging joint local plan housing and spatial strategy policies and the more advanced stage of the Sproughton Neighbourhood Plan which does not allocate this site for housing.
East Anglian Daily Times monthly opinion piece: Housing Design – the end of Anywhere Developments? – Feeling optimistic as new framework offers level playing field for planners. (8 June 2022).
SPS Director, Fiona Cairns explains that a recent Report signals that changes to government policy could lead to improvements in housing design.
The SPS Summer garden party and AGM took place on a beautiful summer’s evening on 10 June at Gothic Farmhouse, Heveningham, kindly hosted by Mr and Mrs Thomas Seymour.
Bookings are currently being taken for 2 events in July –
- a free online webinar on Net Zero in new buildings on July 5th
- a Walk and Talk at Tendring Park, Stoke by Nayland on July 11th