South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood (SSGN):
Benhall & Sternfield Parish Council have been in discussions with Saxmundham Town Council throughout this Consultation and are in full agreement with their Consultation response, including the need to create a public open space and SANG element involving The Layers. We wish to see a true Garden Neighbourhood being developed as shown in the Local Plan. How is the Site layout shown in this Consultation different from an ordinary suburban estate?
It is worth stressing that our key concerns are:
- The Site put forward for this Consultation by Pigeon Investment Management differs in 3 key ways from the Site in the adopted Local Plan. The Site has much reduced public green space and excludes the all-important Layers (see above); and a large extension to the ‘employment’ area (west of the A12) for a service station, electric car-charging, a hotel, a pub, a Starbucks and parking for accessing local footpaths etc. The proposed site also extends further south into Kiln Lane, Benhall – which is outside the Settlement Boundary, in the Countryside.
We propose that the Site for the Garden Neighbourhood is reinstated to that shown in the adopted Local Plan and that there should be no extension into areas of ‘Small Village’ Benhall, designated as Countryside.
- In addition, we believe that the ‘Service Area’ should be the subject of a separate Planning Application as, in our opinion, it is not appropriate in that location – which is outside the Settlement Boundary, in the Countryside – as designated in the Local Plan. Such development is specifically not permitted according to the Local Plan. Nor is it relevant or appropriate to the Garden Neighbourhood concept. Pigeon Investment Management have undertaken a previous ‘Service Area’ development with Eurogarages in Wherstead. It is worth noting that in this case, the land had originally been earmarked for a Park and Ride development and, as such, the change to a Service Area was relatively minor. The pre-Application advice required Pigeon to ‘demonstrate policy compliance’. The Application says ‘ the Proposals are thought to comply with relevant policies’. We contend that Pigeon should demonstrate Policy Compliance with the ES Local Plan.
The South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood in the Local Plan appeared to be a critical plank in East Suffolk’s development policy, being one of 2 Garden Neighbourhoods for the area.
To us, the Site changes shown in the Pigeon Investment Management Consultation seem the equivalent of tearing up the recently adopted Local Plan (late September 2020) which was years in the making. Is that what East Suffolk Council wish to do?
NB: it is worth noting that the Site put forward for Consultation by Pigeon Investment Management is almost identical to that which they proposed during the Local Plan process: and which was rejected in favour of that shown in the adopted LP.
- With the only vehicular access between SGN and Sax being along the A12, the A12 will locally become a ‘local distributor road’. This creates a conflict of use between drivers travelling a long distance (at speed) and those driving a few hundred metres at slower speeds. Therefore the new access should be designed together with a review of the A12 up to the Rendham Road junction. Saxmudham have flagged up that some drivers may prefer to turn left onto the A12 from SGN, then left again to access Saxmundham through Benhall.
- The increased traffic on Main Road resulting from SSGN and the conflicting pedestrian movements between Benhall and SSGN should be acknowledged and suitable measures should be included to ensure safety for all road users along Main Road.
What we would like to see included in the Masterplan:
- a ‘one-stop shop Surgery to replace the small, outdated Sax Surgery.
- It is important to avoid any coalescence between Saxmundham and Benhall and landscaping, in terms of timing, quality and quantity will be critical
- pedestrian and cycling routes for commuting to school, work, transport, shops and services between Benhall and Saxmundham including along the eastern side of the Layers originally envisaged. To include circular routes suitable for leisure walking, cycling and horse-riding.
- Safe crossings for all possible users, including wheelchair users across a12
- Benhall is a small, rural village and in addition to cycling and walking, horse-riding is popular with many residents who keep their horses in Benhall & Sternfield. We have been contacted by a group of horse-owners and riders and we would like to ensure that horse-riders are taken into account in the development of the Garden Neighbourhood. The current A12 crossing should be upgraded appropriately (to take account of the much-increased traffic) as was required for Bridleways 37, 37A and 042 in the Wherstead Service Area development. They should not lose current rights and all cycle tracks (except within the built up part of the Garden Neighbourhood) should be available for horseriders to use.
- There are a few homes in Kiln Lane which could be seriously affected by this development. We would like Pigeon to contact them directly to discuss
- The Anglian Water sewage treatment works in Aldecar Lane, Benhall will need a new access road to take account of the increased usage. It is currently accessed by a single-track lane, mostly with raised banks/hedges on either side (as well as some homes directly fronting on the lane). There is only one official passing place on the lane at the far end, close to the treatment works. Passing at other points requires going onto private land/driveways/gardens. The Inspector raised this issue at the LP Hearings.
Pigeon Investment Management have asked us to answer the specific questions on their Consultation website. However, in view of the above, we do not think it is practical to respond to these until the issue of the Site location is resolved.
Benhall & Sternfield Parish Council
24 January 2021