Legal action could follow if homes below military flightpath are approved

A F-15 takes off at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian Burt

A F-15 takes off at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A west Suffolk parish council has warned it will be forced to pursue legal action if applications for hundreds of new homes are approved this week.

Forest Heath District Council’s planning committee will meet on Wednesday evening where four separate applications totalling 663 homes, and a new primary school, are recommended for approval in Lakenheath.

The four sites were given outline approval in June last year, before being delayed by an intervention of then secretary of state for communities and local government, Sajid Javid.

The proposals faced further delays earlier this year when a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union on a separate case changed the way habitat regulations needed to be interpreted and applied.

Now, after further reports updating the habitat considerations, the four applications are set to be discussed again, with all recommended for approval.

But Lakenheath Parish Council said it was “rigorously opposing” the “unprecedented and misguided” plans, stating that the land’s position beneath a military jet flight path to RAF Lakenheath meant there were significant noise issues as well as other concerns over traffic congestion.

Councillor Hermione Brown, parish council planning sub-committee chairman, said: “Until the planners respond sufficiently to our concerns there remains the inevitability that the parish council will be forced to seek a legal challenge to protect our community.

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“We want to make it very clear that we have never been against staged sustainable development with the necessary and appropriate level of infrastructure.”

The proposals, submitted by four different developers, include 67 homes off Briscoe Way, 81 properties at Rabbit Hill Covert in Station Road, 140 homes in land west of Eriswell Road and outline plans for 375 homes and a new school north of Station Road.

The planning officers’ report for the Station Road plans recognised there were concerns over harming the local landscape and potential aircraft noise, but concluded: “The identified benefits are also considered to outweigh the moderate harm identified to primary education, the landscape, loss of agricultural land and impacts attributable to noise from military aircraft activities.”