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Suffolk is building ‘far too many’ homes - which is claimed to be fuelling ageing population

Demanding housing targets are fuelling Suffolk’s ageing population and increasing pressure on services and the economy, it has been claimed.

Suffolk Coastal councillor Michael Gower warned the thousands of homes planned for the county were “far too many” as most would be occupied by people who have no local connection.

He said Suffolk’s natural population was declining, with more deaths than births in 2017/18, and so the new homes would perpetuate a “significant inward migration” to the county.

Rather than coming to work and build the economy, Mr Gower said newcomers were mainly older people relocating for retirement.

“The demographics don’t lie,” he said. “In ten years’ time one third of the population in the district will be over the age of 65.”

Mr Gower made his comments in opposition to SCDC’s Local Plan, which was voted through on Thursday, December 3, outlining sites to build more than 10,000 homes by 2036, as well as proposals for 6,500 new jobs.

While senior councillors said the plan was a government requirement, which must be delivered, Mr Gower urged colleagues to oppose the housing calculations “handed down by diktat” from Whitehall.

He said the rush for housing had meant a “continuing war” between Suffolk’s councils and communities, highlighting controversial developments in East Bergholt, Long Melford and Framlingham as examples.

Mr Gower also claimed planning policies had led to unbalanced population growth, which would harm the economy.

He said it would mean more carers, cleaners and gardeners but few high paid jobs, and greater demands on health services.

Suffolk County Council has warned separately that the ageing population would see an increase in the number of people living with chronic health conditions.

The only people to benefit, Mr Gower said, were people from outside Suffolk and house builders seeking access to greenfield sites.

“We need to produce new figure on what local people need and attempt to explain to people why ‘Suffolk – the oldest county’ is not a good idea,” he said.

His speech was met with cheers from the audience although colleagues were critical. Andy Smith said communities “must grow to thrive”, while Geoff Holdcroft said new homes were needed to help young people.

Andrew Hirst

7th January 2018

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