30 May 2014
It doesn’t end! An article in the Ipswich Star resulted in a charming photograph of a hedge – but Mrs Liz Beighton of the Planning department at Suffolk Coastal District Council has gone very quiet.
It’s a familiar tactic of this Council. When awkward questions are asked just ignore them! Given time they will go away.
The Council has the power to stop this hedge being removed – and it is a lovely hedge, but they will not tell the developer.
Suspicious minds look for motives – and they are not far away. These allotments are worth money to the local Town Council. Once the hedge is removed and the occupants of 200 new houses can see the produce growing the chainlink fence will be breached and those strawberries and carrots will be plundered.
Once allotment holders are thoroughly disenchanted the developer will be invited in to provide a solution. Build houses.
I reported elsewhere: http://www.trevorlockwood.com/suffolk-coastals-social-class/ that Felixstowe has been selected by Suffolk Coastal as the best place to build houses. It is poor, whilst Aldeburgh is rich. The rich don’t want tatty houses. Felixstowe is never given any choice.
So it goes on, still no answers to direct questions (which I’ve repeated yet again). Now Cllr Savage is bringing her support to the Officer, suggesting the information was helpful. Notice that she replies to the Officer – not to the resident who posed the question!
Thank you for your clarification on the query regarding the hedge at Ferry Road.
This information is most helpful and I am sure when the detailed discussions around the development of this site take place, reference to the hedge will be made along with the other matters raised by residents in the area.
That was in response to this email from Mrs Beighton (I’ve been addressing her as Miss!);
‘From: Liz Beighton
Sent: 21 May 2014 13:06
To: ‘Trevor Lockwood’
Cc: GrahamNewman; Doreen Savage; Nicholas Newton
Subject: [!! SPAM] RE: Hedge at Ferry Road
Dear Mr Lockwood
The outline planning application did not seek to remove the hedge to which you refer, choosing to deal with all landscape matters via a Reserved Matters Application. Until such time that this boundary is considered it would be protected via the Hedgerows Regulations to which you refer. I have not had any discussion with the applicant or landowner with regards to their intention for this boundary and have not heard from them that they would be seeking to remove the hedge. Can I suggest that if you wish for any further clarification on this point you make contact with my colleague Nicholas Newton, the Council’s landscape manager (copied into this e-mail).
Regarding the Single Farm Payment, this is not a planning matter and therefore I am unable to advise you accordingly.
I trust this is sufficient for your purposes.
LIZ BEIGHTON (Mrs)
Development Management Team Leader (South Area)
Found the Minutes, dated 6th February 2014, which refers to Ferry Road planning application: 6 Feb 2014 South Development Minutes. They make interesting reading, and show that the planning officers appear to do more than advise. Parts that caught my eye include:
1) the Head of Planning and Coastal Management advised that the proposal was in a Radon Gas protection area and this would be dealt with via Building Regulations. What do you know about Radon?
2) Mr Todhunter, agent for the developer said, ’33% social housing being viable at the present time and for the foreseeable future, Mr Todhunter stated that this was viable and affordable housing would be provided in accordance with the Section 106 agreement.’ Latest report says that SCDC has reduced several social housing requirements, and has only seen one dwelling built! ‘Mr Todhunter also referred to the Core Strategy which sought to create 1,760 new homes in Felixstowe and the Trimleys’. Surely that is not true – it was all of SCDC area.
3) To add to that Planning officer talked of a 5-year land supply, and that Felixstowe & Trimley. Surely they must have been aware that BT’s Waldringfield scheme to build 2,000 dwellings was about to be determined?
4) It was good to see two Councillors objecting> Cllrs Slemming and Savage spoke in opposition. ‘Councillor Savage, also a Ward Member for Felixstowe East and a member of the Felixstowe Town Council Planning Committee, stated that the Town Council committee had considered the application on two occasions and on both occasions had reiterated its reasons for refusal as listed on page 8 of the report.’
5). It was stated that one access road was enough to service 150 dwellings, and there is only one access road, which has a primary school close by. The Planning official was quite content that would be enough for 200, not just 150 homes.
Given the objections listed by Mr Mahoney, a local resident, and that the Town Council having twice refused, and there being no significant changes, it is difficult to understand why this application was granted.
19th May 2014
An interesting email from Simon Amstutz, AONB Manager: ‘Thanks for your message. If the hedgerow removal was in the original application that would supersede any need to apply the hedgerow regulations act. I have copied in Nick Newton at SCDC who may be able to offer further thoughts.’
That required some explanation as he suggests that planning legislation can overtake environmental issues. That has considerable implications, not just with The Hedge.
16 May 2014:
Late in the day I receive an email from Liz Beighton (Mrs), Development Manager Team Leader (South Area) responding to my email request, she tells me: ‘Regarding the boundary treatment, the application was in outline form and therefore matters on boundaries are all matters to be considered when a reserved matters application is submitted. I have had no discussion with the development team on this matter.
As for the determination of the application, please can I refer you to the Committee report and minutes of the meeting that deal with these matters. The report also deals with highways matters and S106 matters. The documents are available on the Council’s website in the Agendas and Minutes section.’
This is a reply that leaves me perplexed. In a real way she has failed to answer the four questions I asked – although answers may be found in the Committee Report she mentions – although she leaves me to struggle through the SCDC web site to find the answer.
The danger remains.
I had asked, earlier that day: I understand you are the Case Officer for the planning application for development of agricultural land in Ferry Lane, Felixstowe.
We are concerned about the hedge that divides this land from the FX Council allotments as the commonly accepted rumour is that the developer intends to grub up this hedge, and erect a 7ft high chain-link fence. Even the existence of such detail in the rumour gives us cause for concern.
Presumably such a hedge as this – probably the finest to be found in Felixstowe, and from my calculation probably five hundred years old, must come within the remit of the Hedgerow legislation?
As SCDC is the planning authority responsible for ensuring compliance with the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 can you confirm that the correct action has been taken?
Can you also explain how this land, once described (in 1820) by Cobbett as the finest agricultural land he had found in all England, and part of the AONB, came to be allowed to become building land?
Are there any plans to explain how, up to, 400 vehicles leaving the new estate will do so? Neither Ferry Lane nor Gulpher Road seem capable of carrying additional traffic. I presume road widening or similar will be necessary – if so – are there any plans? Again, if so, how will these improvements (sic) be funded?
Finally what is the extent of the S106 contribution to be made for this development, and have any decisions been made as to its intended use?
I’m very grateful to the local Conservation Planner for confirming the likely status of this hedge – it should come within the remit of The Hedgerow Regulations 1997.
I’ve contacted the Case Officer for this development to confirm that the Council are aware of their responsibilities under this Regulation. Her response will be reported here as soon as it is received.
Also contacted HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, Therese Coffey MP, Mayor of Felixstowe, and CEO of AONB Suffolk Coasts and Heaths, and the local media, and posted a Tweet on Twitter to a number of organisations, including the Allotment Association, saying:
‘Recently Suffolk Coastal DC gave a developer planning permission to build 200 houses in Ferry Lane, Felixstowe.
It is now revealed that they plan to grub out a hedge, some 200 yards long that forms the boundary with a Felixstowe Town Council allotment site.
The allotment is bounded by similar hedges on all sides (all of which separate the allotment from housing). It runs east-west, with the mains species being Hazel, with some very mature plants, and at least four other species, which suggests that this hedge may well be five hundred years old. It is part of land described by William Cobbet in his Rural Rides of 1820 as the finest agricultural land he had found anywhere in England.
The developer plans to grub out the hedge and replace it with 7ft high chainlink fence.
We are incensed by this plan and urgently seek your help, and can raise several objections, and we know already there is considerable opposition to this plan.
We believe it is probably the most important hedge we have in the town – which is chronically short of open space in any case. This hedge is covered by The Hedgerow Regulations 1997.
The AONB for the space between the Rivers Deben and Stour – the Colneis Peninsular has always been a bit confusing (to me). It looks the same as the other sides of the rivers but seems to have been left off (thrown to the dogs?). It would appear that AONB legislation has been attached to planning applications in this area, particularly to the land to which I now refer.
A very inaccurate Google map at https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z_fPnEpXT474.ki36yiZz90MQ may help you to identify the hedge.‘
30 May allotment
Those runner beans are now well established. Artichoke seedlings will soon be taking over the whole plot. Cabbages are magnificent, although they have taken longer than the five weeks promised.
Planted second crop of cabbages. Leeks now showing. Runner bean seeds planted. Roses for the shed, with three types of mint, all contained in an area bordered by the shed and compost heaps – to stop it rampaging everywhere.
Chard still growing well, and tastes wonderful. First thinnings of radishes and turnips were eaten for lunch – hard-boiled eggs and a cup of tea, in the sunshine. Bootiful.
Borage has just appeared, as have a few plants from that packet of artichoke seeds I’ve had for years.
As for the rest: it’s weeding, weeding, weeding!