Letter to Babergh District Council - 21 June 2013

Following the public consultation event held at Brantham Village Hall on Wednesday 19 June 2013 Brantham Parish Council have emailed the following letter to Rich Cooke (Head of Planning Policy) and Mike Smith (Senior Planning Policy Officer) at Babergh District Council on Friday 21 June 2013:

Dear Rich,

Thank you to you and Mike for attending the public meeting and for handling the questions on behalf of Babergh.

We felt it was important that Babergh and SFG understand the strength of feeling that exists in the village. As you will have seen last night the village is not anti development but it is strongly against any development on the agricultural land. Hence we do not accept that there is a need for the modification that some or all of the greenfield land can be considered for development if it is necessary for the viability of the overall scheme.

We have made residents aware of the response form but are concerned that there will be a low use of the form as it is not particularly  user friendly for people unaccustomed to the language and questions asked.

We understand from your comments last night that regardless of the decision of the inspector the final decision rests with BDC, we will naturally be asking our district councillors to make sure their colleagues are informed of the strength of feeling in the village and the need to remove the modification and restrict the development to a more proportionate level.

We understand that you have targets and will receive a substantial windfall and are therefore heavily incentivised  to allow the maximum development in the village. It is however important that if necessary we set aside short term gains and take a long term view and make the right decisions for the village and with the village.

Brantham has had to put up with the eyesore of the industrial site for over a hundred years, while it has in the past provided some  local employment with hindsight it is amazing that the authorities allowed such businesses to operate and to pollute the site given the fact that it s surrounded by SSSI, Ramsar and  SPA Sites and the AONB and its location on the edge of the River Stour. There is therefore a strong argument that the site should be returned to green open space although most Brantham people are realistic this will not be possible but it is important that the owners adhere to the policy of development only on the industrial site.

The possibility of c300 houses on the industrial site will be very difficult for the village to absorb, but we believe will be accepted by the residents and we hope on reflection will also be accepted by BDC and SFG as a very fair outcome. From the views expressed at the meeting we think that residents would rather SFG walk away or sell the site than see the blight of the factory replaced by the blight of over development.

We hope that a satisfactory solution can be found and perhaps with some site re-configuration, cost cutting, lower profit margins and reduced affordable homes a suitable way forward can be found. We do not think SFG should be bailed out just because they miscalculated the clean up costs, or because   land values have dropped since they acquired the site.

Communication between the village and SFG and BDC has not been what we would expect in the past, and we hope this can be improved going forward.

Lets work together and build a better Brantham.

Kind regards,

Brantham Parish Council