Friday, 30 October 2015

Bad Day For Fram

SCDC Planning Committee decided in favour of Persimmon's second planning application for 95 houses on Mount Pleasant by 8:5 votes.

Here are some highlights:

•  Framlingham Town Council chair, Carolyn Youngs surprised the meeting by reversing the Town Council's position on opposing the application (which they did on 8 October) and said that they were in favour. This is an interesting volte face as there has not been a Town Council meeting since the 8th October to debate the issue and the last vote was 6:2 against. There has also been a new Town Councillor elected who has not voted on the matter at all.
So by what authority can this now be the Town Council's position?

Carolyn Youngs further confused the issue by saying that we needed Mount Pleasant application approved to reach the '200' new homes target but omitted to say we were already on track and the 200 houses target is over 10 years.
Mrs Youngs also failed to tell the Committee that more Framlinghamians, when asked in the Neighbourhood Plan, voted against the Mount Pleasant site for development than had voted for it.
•  All of this was taken by an influential committee member to mean the town was in favour of the development.
•  Councillor Burroughes substitute gave us a patronising lecture that development wasn’t so bad, just look at how his ward of Martlesham had benefitted from massive development and promptly voted in favour.
• As to procedure...hmmm. Well, our recollection of the events of the 8th differ to those recorded in SCDC's official minutes. It would seem that they also differ to the recollections of one of the Councillors, who questioned this fact too and that on 8th October Mr Ridley interrupted procedures after the vote was taken which we believe is contrary to the normal process. But apparently we are all wrong and he was invited. It may not seem much but the procedure of these events is very important.
•  Mr Ridley, Head of Planning, also told the committee that if they voted in favour of this application it gave SCDC ammunition to better fight other applications - presumably because it helps to strengthen the five year housing supply figure.
So it is first come first served onto the sacrificial alter of development.
 •  Persimmon's agent said, when asked if they would withdraw from the appeal if this application was approved, he didn’t think they would because they were too far down the line. In other words "we have established the development is sustainable so why wouldn’t we go all out for 100 homes when it saves us £500k on CIL and we get five more houses".

If SCDC, Persimmon or Taylor Wimpey think for one moment that opposition to Fairfield Road or indeed to Mount Pleasant's application for 100 houses is simply going to melt away, they are mistaken. We are as determined as ever to fight for Fram!

Yesterday's was a bad decision that will definitely adversely effect Framlingham's future.

Framlingham Residents' Association will discussing next steps. If you want to be part of the discussion, please email us at:

Continue to help us make a difference.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Decision Day

This coming Thursday 29 October SCDC will decide whether or not to approve Persimmon's second planning application for 95 houses on Mount Pleasant. 

Their first application was refused in February. Persimmon has gone to appeal, which will be heard in January 2016.

This second application was just about to be refused on 8 October by six votes to four when there was an extra-ordinary intervention by the Head of Planning and the Council Solicitor. They claimed members must be aware of privileged legal information before debating the reasons to refuse the application and therefore the decision was deferred until they had been briefed.

Be there to see if democracy still exists at SCDC.
Let us hope that, as our elected representatives, the Committee use their common sense and refuse to be railroaded into a bad decision that will adversely effect Framlingham's future.

8.30 for 9.00am start.
Thursday 29 October 2015
Council Chamber
Suffolk Coastal District Council
Melton Hill
Suffolk IP12 1AU

In the meantime, any questions please email us at:

Continue to help us make a difference.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


Besides the Mount Pleasant application at the SCDC Planning Committee meeting on 8th October, there was, but with less profile, the Bennett Homes application for 16 new houses at the AtlasFram site in New Road. Normally we would support development on a brownfield site like this but we were concerned that the developer was trying to wriggle out of the affordable homes requirement just like Hopkins Homes did at Station Road.

Unlike Hopkins and Station Road, Bennett Homes could not use the ‘unexpected high levels of contamination has made it uneconomic' argument because their own site report said the levels of contamination were very low and not of any concern. So instead they argued the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) had increased their community contribution by so much it made the site uneconomic if the five affordable houses were included in the build. Instead they were prepared to make a contribution of £60,000 to the affordable housing scheme managed by SCDC. The SCDC Case Officer  recommended approval. This set a worrying  precedent, so we decided to speak against the development and urge the committee to insist on the affordable homes.

We argued that the AtlasFram is a prime site with views across the mere and the castle so houses would sell at a premium price. There are no hurdles to development (contamination, flooding, access restrictions) so if the Planning Committee agreed that CIL made this site uneconomic then this would become a precedent that could be used by every subsequent developer to avoid building affordable homes. We suggested that SCDC should negotiate the overall CIL contribution to protect the affordable homes but Philip Rowson made it very clear to Committee that the CIL trumped affordable homes and this was non-negotiable.

We were heartened to see the Town Council were also at the meeting making a similar argument in support of the affordable homes.

It was clear that this argument had some support and the committee debated the issue for some time. There was then a closed session where we believe the details of the Economic Viability Report were discussed. Unfortunately after this session the committee approved the application.

We fear that this precedent will now be used by developers to avoid building affordable homes, particularly on brownfield sites. Another consequence is that SCDC get the CIL contribution and we don’t get the affordable homes. We have to bid to get the CIL monies allocated to Fram and in these budget restricted times there will be a lot of competition from other communities with other needs.

So good news that homes are to be built on the site but bad news that this unfortunate precedent has been set.

In the meantime, any questions please email us at:

Continue to help us make a difference.

Friday, 9 October 2015


How the decision was made and then unmade....
Today in an extraordinary series of events the application for 95 new homes in Mount Pleasant was again 'refused' by the SCDC Planning Committee and then the hearing immediately deferred the decision. (However, because the vote was waylaid, technically it means that the application was not approved, instead of refused).
The SCDC Planning Committee listened to the case officers report, heard submissions from interested parties including FRAm and then debated the application. The debate was at times quite heated and the senior planning officers were very determined in their support for the application but there was a strong feeling from some committee members that this was very similar to the application they refused in February and the sustainability issues highlighted then had not been addressed.

Then a couple of extraordinary things happened. Firstly having closed the debate the acting Chairman chose that moment, just prior to the vote, to read out a statement from the usual Chairperson strongly supporting the application. The timing of this was extraordinary and clearly designed to influence committee members. Surely this should have been read out at the beginning of the debate? Next came the vote. There was complete silence as voting hands were raised and a huge sigh of collective relief as the result; 4 votes for, 6 votes against was announced. Suddenly the District Solicitor was out of his seat, across the podium and whispering into the ear of Philip Ridley, The Head of Planning. Mr Ridley then addresse the committee telling them that this decision needs to be deferred. He went on If councillors are concerned that a vote in favour of the application will jeopardise the appeals then they should be re-assured that Counsel has advised us it will not harm our case! Councillors are silent, bewildered, I couldn’t say this before said Ridley because I couldn’t be seen to influence the vote. The District Solicitor whispered some more. Ridley speaks again; we need you to vote in favour of deferring this decision so we can give you more time to consider your objections before reaching a decision.
But, said a councillor, won’t we then face another possible appeal because we have not come to a decision as we are legally obliged to. 
Yes, said Ridley but we can manage that. I have very clear instruction from Counsel that this outcome will not help our case. 
Councillors were clearly confused, in all my years on this committee, said Tony Fryatt, never have I been told after a vote that I need to re-consider and defer a decision.
If you could listen to the advice of Counsel says Ridley (as if Counsel was some mysterious figure only the sacred few got to hear), then I am sure your concerns on sustainability will be answered.
The committee are clearly unsure but they are being browbeaten by the Head of Planning. This is now intriguing says Tony Fryatt so as much as it goes against all my principals I will propose that we defer this decision pending further investigation. The vote is carried 8:2.

So we thought we had won the day only for it to be snatched away from us minutes later by a Head of Planning who is determined to see this application accepted. Of course the final decision has not been made but it means we will have to go through the whole process again only this time the opposition will be better prepared.

And who is that opposition. We used to think SCDC Planning was on our side, they told us they are going to mount a robust defence of the original planning decision against Mount Pleasant and Fairfield Road, but now we question that commitment. We know legal argument can work in mysterious ways but can someone please tell us how a decision in favour of this development will help SCDC in their defence of the original appeal. Of course Philip Ridley didn’t say our defence, he said our case. So what is that case? It doesn’t look like they want to win the appeal, so what is it? One could postulate that if the Mount Pleasant application were to be accepted then as a quid-pro-quo the developer would withdraw from the appeal. Of course that also puts the Fairfield Road appeal in grave danger but the CIL payment of over £1M from Mount Pleasant would help to sweeten that pill from a District perspective.

All in all, a very strange day. One where you come out wondering how your victory was suddenly snatched away by a sleight of hand. Where the arguments used are so counter-intuitive to be beyond baffling. And what now? There will be another planning committee meeting but all the Counsel briefings to Committee Members will no doubt be behind doors so will we ever know what is going on.

The more we think about it the more we come to the conclusion that the committee was never going to be allowed to reject the application. Throughout the hearing Philip Ridley and his colleague Philip Rowson were again and again pushing councillors to support the application.  The way the District Solicitor moved so quickly after the vote against the recommendation says to us that they had a plan; if the committee vote goes against recommendation, interrupt proceedings and get a deferment before the second vote to formally reject the application is taken. This is wrong. The public went to that meeting expecting to see democracy at work. Residents have campaigned in the belief that the planning committee’s vote was final. We have put in weeks of hard work studying the application, looking at the planning law, preparing relevant argument because we thought we had a right to a fair hearing. Today we were cheated of that fair hearing. The SCDC Planning Department now have three weeks to share the advice of Legal Counsel from the appeal team with committee members and convince them of the merits of the application.  Will we have access to that information so we can put forward a counter argument? We doubt it because if that information was going to be made public then it would have been before the committee meeting. This is all disappearing behind closed doors and that is very wrong.

Unbelievable of FRAm
In the meantime, any questions please email us at:

Continue to help us make a difference.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

We Need You Tomorrow

Important development on Mount Pleasant

In an extraordinary turn of events the SCDC Planning Case Officer has recommended approval for the slightly revised application for 95 new homes on Mount Pleasant. This is despite the SCDC Planning Committee refusing the earlier application for 99 homes on the grounds that it was not sustainable.

We have a ridiculous situation where SCDC are on the one hand fighting a Planning Inspectorate appeal saying the application is not sustainable and on the other they are telling the Planning Committee that they agree with the developer and it is sustainable and recommending approval.

To the Residents' Association it quite frankly beggars belief that this could happen.

If the application is approved tomorrow then it rides a coach and horses through the SCDC defence for both Mount Pleasant and Fairfield Road at the Inspectorate Appeals. The sustainability arguments used by the developers for Mount Pleasant and Fairfield Road are identical, so if this application is approved now SCDC will have no defence against either development at the appeals. It is that important.

We must show the Planning Committee that we don’t agree with this development by turning up in force tomorrow. Please get there by any means possible.

8.45am for 9.00am start
Thursday 8 October 2015

Planning Committee Meeting
Suffolk Coastal District Council Offices
Melton Hill

IP12 1AU 
In the meantime, any questions please email us at:

Continue to help us make a difference.

Saturday, 3 October 2015


Mount Pleasant

We have just learnt that the second planning application to build 99 houses on Mount Pleasant has been included as a 'late entry' to be heard and decided by SCDC Planning Committee on Thursday 8 October.

m will speak at the Committee meeting and we would welcome as much support from members on the day as possible.

Apparently the site visit has already taken place (so much for transparency), now all that is left for us to do is to write to each of the District Councillors that sit on the Planning Committee and lodge our views. Remember that this is a new Planning Committee made up of Councillors from all over Suffolk Coastal district. 

Here are their names and email addresses.


who will be replacing Councillor Hudson on the day

for each councillors contact details please click on this link:
Please include:

the application number (DC/15/2759/FUL)
your name
your address
your objection/s
Your objection does not have to be long or involved, just say how you feel about the development application will affect Framlingham - in your own words, or you can use this template (click on this link), if you rather. 
So if you thought you had missed your opportunity to have your still have time but emails have to be sent by TUESDAY 6 OCTOBER 2015.
In the meantime, any questions please email us at:

Continue to help us make a difference.