Town centre’s 80 home care village given green light

A retirement community is to be built on the former Ingate Ironworks site in Beccles. PHOTO: McCarth

A retirement community is to be built on the former Ingate Ironworks site in Beccles. PHOTO: McCarthy and Stone. - Credit: Archant

An 80-home care village is to be built in Beccles town centre after plans were unanimously approved by councillors.

The plans for the former Ingate ironworks site on Gosford Road will include 55 flats in a three and four storey building, 23 bungalows and two flats over garages.

Concerns were raised, however, over a proposed pedestrian access gate at the northern end of the development, with fears it would lead elderly residents onto a "mud track" behind Fair Close.

At a meeting of East Suffolk Council's planning committee on Wednesday, October 8, Richard Stubbings, speaking on behalf of Beccles Town Council, said: "We like this application but have a number of concerns. We are concerned about a lack of affordable housing and location of the pedestrian access, which is a gateway to nowhere.

"We want this community to work, not to be isolated. It is in the town centre and should be part of it."

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An independent viability assessment concluded the plans were not viable for affordable housing contributions.

Councillor Graham Elliott echoed the concerns, saying: "This is a town centre plan that is not in the town centre because of the route. It is a particularly tortuous route and I have got significant reservations.

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"I am very disappointed by the lack of affordable housing, but it is generally a well-liked scheme in the town and it is something that is wanted."

Others suggested moving the access route further along the back lane behind Fair Close.

Councillor Tony Goldson said: "We have to respect the residents who will be there. They will need some way to get into town otherwise they will be isolated.

"It will be a lovely development in a great location, but the access needs to be addressed otherwise elderly people won't buy into it because they will be stuck there."

Councillor Malcolm Pitchers said: "The idea of a mobility scooter driving down that mud track does not work."

Speaking at the meeting on behalf of applicants McCarthy and Stone, Alex Clark said: "We believe our application will deliver a high-quality retirement village in the centre of Beccles and will meet an identified local need.

"We are a community-led developer and we will endeavour to do what is best for the community."

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