Saxmundham Neighbourhood Plan

Town Council criticizes Pigeon site proposals for ‘Garden Neighbourhood’

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021 10:59 pm

What can – and should – we expect of the proposed South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood? Last Monday (18th January) Saxmundham Town Council unanimously agreed its Response to the public consultation by Pigeon Investment Management Ltd.  This consultation ends on 31st January, so residents have only a few days to give any response – see below.

The Town Council had earlier (in December) resolved to cooperate with the developers and local planning authority (East Suffolk Council, ESC) to ensure that – now that the ‘Garden Neighbourhood’ proposal has been approved by ESC – the way it is implemented is (a) in line with the Local Plan defined area and policy, and (b) works as well as we can achieve for our town (including providing community facilities).  

But here’s the problem.  The Town Council has (since its earlier interim response in December) discovered that the site now proposed – far from being in accordance with the new Local Plan, which was approved as recently as last September – was proposed by Pigeon in 2019 for inclusion in the Local Plan – but was rejected by the local planning authority.  

Yet Pigeon have hidden this crucial fact away.  In their present consultation, they have included a large countryside site on the west side of the A12, opposite the new housing zone,  for a service station and lorry park, which they had tried but failed to get included in the Local Plan.  This was never consulted on by the planning authority as part of the Plan process. It is now presented as if the Local Plan can simply be ignored. 

In addition, Pigeon have severely reduced the area of green and open space to the east of the railway, by excluding The Layers.  In short, they are now putting forward a substantially different – and worse – site from that formally adopted, after huge consultation and public examination, by the District Council.  This makes a mockery of the whole Local Plan process, and undermines its legitimacy.  Local communities, and their town and parish councils, have a legitimate expectation that the Local Plan will be adhered to, especially so soon after its adoption.

We show here the site proposed by Pigeon in 2019, and the same site put forward now, as compared to the site approved by East Suffolk Council in its Local Plan in September 2020

The site proposed by Pigeon in 2019 but not accepted in Local Plan, with service station / lorry park (in the middle site, below pink ’employment’ area) but excluding The Layers

The almost identical site now proposed by Pigeon in their current consultation, with service station / lorry park but excluding The Layers 

The site as defined in the Local Plan, approved in September 2020 by the local planning authority, including The Layers but excluding service station/lorry park 

The Town Council argues that The Layers (or most of it) MUST be included in the Garden Neighbourhood site, as it provides the only real way of linking the new ‘Garden Neighbourhood’ development to the town and its services.  We think a new ‘heritage country park’ could be sited on the Layers, with good quality cycle and footpaths to South Entrance.

And that leads to the second great failing of Pigeon’s current proposal, in the view of the Town Council.  All the main housing area (plus site for new primary school) would be between the A12 and railway, to the south of the area of Saxmundham SET secondary school.  But the only way in and out of the site for motors would be via a single route (and roundabout) on to the A12.  To get to the town, motorists will need to turn right and then immediately right (across oncoming traffic) into Rendham Road (or take the longer route left, and left again at Benhall).  This makes it all the more important that the new Neighbourhood is well connected for cyclists and pedestrians.  But Pigeon’s plans are silent – they make no serious proposals for how to link their scheme to the town, and seem to rely on the poor quality footpath by the school, and the footpath from the rail footbridge  to South Entrance, on land they refuse to include in the site.  This is simply not good enough, and risks creating a separate dormitory estate, bringing costs but no benefits to the town.

The Town Council’s full Response covers these and several other points, and can be downloaded here.

Whether you agree with the Town Council or not, you can respond to the Pigeon consultation in several ways, with details on their consultation website

In short:

(a) You can answer their specific questions online (which however do not include or touch on some of the points raised above) 

(b) You can email them to give your response at  

(c) You can write to them  (but would need to do so fast!) at Pigeon Investment Management Ltd, Linden Square, 146 Kings Road, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 3DJ

Their phone number is Tel: 01284 766200

If you wish to support, in whole or in part, the Town Council’s Response, then we suggest the simplest and fastest way is to email them and simply state that you endorse the January Response of the Town Council, or that you endorse whichever sections of it that you wish to specify.