That’s right. Taylor Wimpey could not muster even one member of the public to support their “free go” second application for 295 houses on land north of Gracechurch Street.
This remarkable result mirrors the anger in Debenham about the second “free go” Taylor Wimpey has been given to get its scheme passed by the planning committee which many see as an abuse of the planning process. People were led to believe that approval of the Neighbourhood plan Protected the village from predatory planning applications.
In 2018 the first application brought in 335 public comments of which of which 318 were objections and four suppported the TW plan.
This time anger about the attempt to destroy the Neighbourhood Plan, which had been given overwhelming support in a village referendum, has fired a determination to fight even harder.
The objection from Ben Gummer, the former Ipswich MP who lives in the Debenham council ward, nicely sums up the arguments against the applications:
I object strongly to the reapplication of TW for what is essentially the same scheme they applied for a year ago. The arguments made by hundreds of residents at that time – overdevelopment, scale, pollution, traffic, noise, lack of facilities – are in essence the same. However, there is an even greater reason to refuse this time round, which is democracy. At the time of the last application, there was an emerging local plan, which – in my view – officers did not weigh as much as they were obliged to by both central policy and case law. Now that plan has been voted on – by a hugh majority on a very large turnout – and has been adopted by the district. To recommend approval of an application that cuts straight across the adopted Neighbourhood Plan is fundamentally undemocratic and runs counter both to the spirit and letter of the NPPF.
The strong community of Debenham has done all that has been asked of it by the legislation that underpins the NPPF: it has designed its own plan, that accommodates the growth asked of it by the district council. It has gather remarkable support for this plan – 85% of local residents – a scale that makes it one of the most popular plans in the country. The plan was hailed by the inspector as an exemplar. That the community should be subject, again, to TW’s speculative attempts to ride over that plan is deeply unfair.
If the council allows any chance of hope to TW in their quest to impose their wishes over the desires of the community of Debenham, they will undermine the democratic principles at the heart of the Neighbourhood Planning process, and the NPPF itself. If neighbourhood planning is to mean anything, then the district must object to this proposal in such a way that it can never return. If it does not do so, it throws the whole of neighbourhood planning into disarray, not only in mid-Suffolk but elsewhere.
It is not yet known when a Mid Suffolk District Council planning committee will consider the application. The first application in 2018 was recommended for approval by planning officers but rejected by councillors at the committee meeting. Taylor Wimpey did not appeal against the decision, but because of government rules was able to re-submit its application without paying application fees.