Proposal for new Custom and Self-Build homes
on Victoria Mill Road, Framlingham
Frequently asked questions
We consulted on our proposals for Framlingham in July 2020. Below is our response to the most frequently asked and important questions raised during the consultation.
The optimum number of homes on a site should result from a design-led approach, taking account of the site context and infrastructure capacity.
Policy FRAM25 supports proposals for “approximately 30 dwellings”. This reflects the limitation placed on the site by the navigability of Victoria Mill Road rather than being demand-led or an ‘ideal’ density.
We have worked with Suffolk Highways to come up with a proposal for improvements to the carriageway and footways of Victoria Mill Road which we believe will improve the capacity, navigability, and safety of Victoria Mill Road such that the site can accommodate more homes. This helps make the site financially viable, but also benefits all users of Victoria Mill Road. More details of the improvements are contained within the Transport Assessment which accompanies our planning application.
At 50 homes, the density of the site is approximately 33 homes per hectare which is typical of much of Framlingham.
The Framlingham Neighbourhood Plan identifies this site for delivery during the second half of the Neighbourhood Plan period (2015-2031), from 2025. This is because the minimum indicative housing requirement, up to 2027, has already been met.
As the Plan reiterates, it is important to understand that these figures represent a minimum of what must be planned for. There is benefit in progressing sites in the meantime, particularly as it can take many years before people can move in to their new homes.
We will submit an outline planning application, to be followed by a reserved matters planning application and then, delivery of the highway improvements, shared landscaping and play area. This can all take several years, so 2025 remains a reasonable target.
The Framlingham Neighbourhood Plan states the minimum indicative housing requirement (established in the Site Allocations and Area Specific Policies Local Plan), up to 2027, has already been met. However, the Plan period extends beyond this date, until 2031. As the Plan reiterates, it is also important to understand that these figures represent a minimum of what must be planned for.
As such, there is further need for new homes in Framlingham and there is still benefit in bringing forward sites, such as this one, which the Plan identifies for longer-term growth.
Additionally, we have commissioned research looking specifically at the local demand for Custom and Self-Build homes. Using information from East Suffolk Council’s register of interest in Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding, Buildstore and NaCSBA research, and discussion with local estate agents who are regularly receiving Custom and Self-Build plot enquiries, we can evidence a strong demand for this type of home in Framlingham. Furthermore, our research shows that the demand in East Suffolk is relatively high when compared to other authorities across England. This Custom and Self-Build needs assessment was submitted as part of our planning application.
It’s in our interest to make Victoria Mill Road safer for everyone who uses it.
We appointed local civil engineer Canham Consulting to come up with a design which delivers greatest benefit for minimum local disruption.
We propose widening Victoria Mill Road to between 5 and 5.5m (from as narrow as 3.7m in places currently). The widening will take place east of our site access until it ties into a similar width to the north of the existing 90-degree bends. This will improve visibility and allow two cars to pass in safety at low speed.
Two of the 90-degree bends will be significantly straightened. Additionally, the remaining bend will be straightened slightly to further improve visibility and allow for safer movement for all vehicles. By not removing all 90-degree bends, traffic is still forced to slow to a safe speed while passing through the area. Computer analysis of the proposed layout proves that construction vehicles and larger articulated vehicles can travel along the road easily and safely without the need to use the verge.
Finally, the existing footway will be widened to 1.8m where possible (from about 1.2m), and new tactile paving and safer pedestrian crossing points established. An additional footway is to be provided on the south side of the road behind the existing hedgerow.
We are unable to widen the whole of Victoria Mill Road west of our site and there would be little benefit to this.
We appointed local civil and highway engineer Canham Consulting to undertake detailed traffic and transport assessment. We undertook traffic counts to understand current levels and used an industry standard transport database and data analysis system to determine and to analyse the likely number of trips to and from the site in the future (taking in to account our site and other committed development).
We also carried out detailed analysis of three critical road junctions to see how they would perform:
- The entrance to our site
- Victoria Mill Road and Station Road T-Junction
- Station Road, Albert Road, and B1119 priority crossroad junction.
The analysis shows our development will increase congestion slightly, but all junctions have ample capacity to cope with the increase in vehicle numbers.
More detail is available in the Transport Assessment submitted as part of our planning application.
A heritage and archaeology specialist was appointed to research the archaeological potential of the site. Their report follows the Standard and Guidance for Historic Environment Desk-based Assessment issued by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. It concludes that some prehistoric, Roman, and Early Medieval activity is recorded in the wider area but there is no current evidence to suggest focused activity of this date within our site. The site was most likely in agricultural use from at least the medieval period to the current day.
Whilst a desk-based assessment should be considered sufficient to determine an outline planning application, we will carry out trial trench evaluation as necessary ahead of any building work.
Framlingham has experienced considerable growth in recent years with schemes at Fore Street, Mount Pleasant, Castle Keep, Gargrave Place, Prospect Place, Tudor Gardens, Station Road, Windmill Gate, Clarke Drive Mews, and White Horse Mews complete or underway. We understand this puts pressure on local services and infrastructure, which often take a while to adapt to and catch up with demand, and that this is frustrating for residents.
House building is extremely effective in stimulating the economy, and new people do bring greater investment and growth in services and infrastructure. In terms of calculating the economic benefits of development, a study undertaken on behalf of the UK Contractors Group found that a £1 investment in construction results in £2.84 in terms of benefits to the wider economy.
Additionally, as it stands, our project will generate an estimated New Homes Bonus of about £1.4m and additional Council Tax of over £0.5m in the six years after completion. This is an important funding source which can be used by the Council to support specific infrastructure and other projects that will benefit Framlingham.
A fundamental part of any development proposal is making the case for sustainability (in terms of the economy, socially, and environmentally). As part of this we look carefully at local services and identify whether or not they can cope. For example, the Education Authority confirmed that typically 13 primary and secondary school places would be required as a result of the development; the School Infrastructure team at Suffolk County Council confirmed that there is this capacity within local schools. NHS Choices confirms that there is currently capacity, and new patients are being accepted, at Framlingham Surgery.
More detail is available in the Sustainability Appraisal submitted as part of our planning application.
We will provide safe pedestrian and cycle routes as part of the development which connect with the existing network.
Our proposal for improving Victoria Mill Road includes widening the existing footway to 1.8m where possible (from about 1.2m). New tactile paving and safer pedestrian crossing points will be created.
There is currently no footway on the southern side of Victoria Mill Road so we are creating a new one, tucked safely behind the existing hedgerow. This also avoids having to excessively cut back or remove the hedge.
As part of our submission we have prepared a Travel Plan. The main objective of the Travel Plan is to reduce reliance on private cars, in particular the number of residents and visitors travelling individually in their vehicles to our site. A Travel Plan Coordinator will be appointed at least six months before the first people move in. Their job will be to make new homeowners aware of travel alternatives available to them and to promote local greener travel initiatives and the benefits of such modes of travel. For example, this will include promoting Suffolk’s car share scheme operated by Liftshare, providing up-to-date bus timetables and route maps, and highlighting nearby National Cycle Route 1 and Regional Route 40. The effectiveness of the Travel Plan and its initiatives will be monitored by an annual travel survey and reviewed at an annual review meeting.
More detail is available in the Travel Plan submitted as part of our planning application.
During the public consultation, we showed connections to the recently built footpath and cycleway along the eastern boundary of our site because we wanted to stitch into the existing network and make it easier for neighbours to access the play area and open spaces on our site and beyond.
For planning, we have removed the southernmost connection and shown the other as an indicative connection that can be established if deemed desirable in the future.
Custom and Self-Build is not a new idea. In the 18th century, Bath’s iconic Royal Crescent was custom-built; one architect designed the frontage, whilst each plot owner commissioned their own architect to design a bespoke home behind.
Custom and Self-Build is being strongly promoted by Government. However, the UK is well behind other European nations when it comes to the number of end-user commissioned homes being built (more than 80% of new homes are built this way in Austria compared to about 10% in the UK) so it’s no surprise it feels risky and unfamiliar.
There are national organisations such as NaCSBA to help you understand the process and connect you with networks of professionals and likeminded individuals.
We’ve also created a Custom and Self-Build factsheet, which you can download here, to explain more about the process and the advantages of going down this route. There is also a bit more information on our website.
Self-Build plots are carefully chosen so that their location, and the timing of their construction, doesn’t create excessive site traffic or site Health and Safety risks.
Clauses within each plot sale contract will require that Self-Build plot purchasers complete their homes within a defined time limit (typically three years). If a building completion certificate hasn’t been issued within the time limit, then the developer will have the right to buy back the plot subject to any charges in favour of a mortgage provider.
Construction will result in HGV traffic. Whilst this is unavoidable, movements will be restricted, where appropriate, to hours that will not cause undue disturbance.
Our proposed improvements to Victoria Mill Road mean that construction vehicles and larger articulated vehicles can travel along the road more easily and safely.
Before any plots are sold the roads and utilities are installed by the developer — this includes our proposed improvements to Victoria Mill Road. The developer also takes responsibility for delivering the communal landscaping and play area.
A Management Company will be set up to look after the communal roads and paths, courtyards, landscaping and play area. Each property has a share in the Management Company and when all the plots on the development are sold the Management Company will be handed over from the developer to the residents. A managing agent may be appointed, or residents may choose to manage the estate themselves. Plot sales will be subject to covenants that are designed to ensure that the public realm is properly maintained.
All 2-bedroom houses have a single parking space plus a single garage. 3-bedroom houses have a minimum of one parking space plus a single or double garage. All 4-bedroom houses have two parking spaces and a double garage.
An additional car park provides allocated spaces for residents of the flats and visitors.
No buildings are higher than two stories plus a pitched roof. We used the description ‘generally two-storey’ to account for those with the potential for additional rooms in the roof space (creating a third occupiable floor) where this does not increase the ridge height.
We accept this description is confusing and have changed it for the planning application.
The provision of new children’s play areas is required to support residential development and to comply with the requirements of Suffolk Coastal Core Strategy policies SP16 and DM32. The Framlingham Neighbourhood Plan evidences a shortage of three Local Equipped Areas for Play (LEAPs) and one Neighbourhood Equipped Area for Play (NEAP). Further planned population growth creates a need for another two LEAPs or one NEAP.
The areas of greatest deficiency are identified as being in the south and west of the town, and our site was singled out as being the best location to mitigate for this.
We believe a new play area will be a local asset as well as meeting the identified need. We’ve located the play area to be conveniently accessible for the rest of the town and to be well overlooked by neighbouring properties which will help prevent antisocial behaviour.
We have allocated 17 homes (34% of the total number) as ‘affordable’. Some will be offered at a discount to the open market price, some will be traditional shared ownership, and the remaining will be affordable rent.
We feel strongly that Custom and Self-Build should be available to everyone so we would like to offer some plots at a discount to the open market price, not just finished homes, although this has yet to be agreed with the Council.
It is worth noting that Custom and Self-Build provides a small degree of ‘affordability’ over the equivalent traditionally built home. With the buyer taking on more responsibility, lower Stamp Duty Land Tax (as it’s only due on the price of the land), CIL exemption, and the ability to complete homes in stages over time, the same house on the same site can cost a lot less than the usual market price.
We know the site has some areas of surface water flooding, particularly along the southern boundary in the existing ditch.
We appointed local civil engineer Canham Consulting to undertake a detailed flood risk assessment and prepare an initial drainage design. The proposed strategy will improve drainage, and protect against flooding even in rare 1-in-100-year events. We’ve also applied a ‘climate change factor’ to ensure the worst possible case has been considered.
The proposed drainage strategy is to attenuate water in a basin located in the south eastern corner of the site and discharge it slowly into existing surface water sewers. All water that falls onto hard surfaces will either be conveyed towards the basin via gullies and a piped system or filter through permeable paving before entering the piped network to ensure that the water is removed effectively.
The basin will not typically have water in it, it’s designed to only be needed after large storm events when the water has built up. During a rare 1 in 100 year plus climate change event, the water may reach the top of the basin. In the event of an even greater storm, the basin may overflow. In which case it’s been designed to flow into the existing ditch on the southern boundary (which should no longer typically fill with water due to the new basin).
More detail is available in the Flood Risk Assessment submitted as part of our planning application. A maintenance strategy has also been submitted to ensure everything continues to work as it should.
If you’re interested in building your ideal home in Framlingham please fill out a form and let us know.