The Masterplan area is located approximately 2km east of the centre of the village of Stanton and immediately south of the A143 Bury Road, and includes the existing commercial/industrial areas of Shepherd’s Grove East and Shepherd’s Grove West. The area was formerly a WWII RAF airfield. Opposite the northern boundary is an arable field and an existing property at the junction of Bury Road and Clay Lane (Turnpike Farm). Sumner Road runs southwards from the A143 and forms a substantial part of the eastern boundary of the area, which includes the industrial buildings at Shepherd’s Grove East. To the south of Shepherd’s Grove East, arable fields adjoin the area, with a strong tree belt separating the area from these fields. A tree lined concrete access road leads to Sumner Road between the fields from this part of the eastern boundary. Arable fields adjoin the southern boundary of the area. Existing industrial and commercial buildings at Shepherd’s Grove West occupy the south-west corner of the area, while there are arable fields further north and a number of smaller, wooded fields with farm buildings and detached residential properties adjoining the north western part of the Masterplan area.
To the west of Shepherd’s Grove West Industrial Estate (south of Grove Lane), beyond an area of woodland and scrub is a large, well established ‘retirement park homes’ site known as Shepherd’s Grove Park. Grove Lane runs westwards to meet Upthorpe Road about 300 metres west of the village. Beyond Stanton, small villages and scattered farmsteads are scattered through the wider, mainly arable landscape, with the closest villages being Hepworth approximately 1.7km to the north, Wattisfield, approximately 2.3km to the east and Walsham le Willows approximately 2.5km to the southwest. Blocks of woodland are a feature of the wider landscape, with large fields bound by scattered hedgerow trees and limited topographical undulation which allows open views to wooded horizons.
The undeveloped parts of the Masterplan area (some 53ha in extent), comprise four distinct areas: a smaller northern parcel immediately south of the A143; a linear strip of land linking a much larger southern parcel, and an area adjoining the former airfield perimeter roads immediately north of Shepherd’s Grove East.
The village of Stanton is located approximately 2km west of the Masterplan area and provides a good range of local services and facilities, such as primary school, shop, post office, two public houses, petrol station, village hall, recreational, sport and play facilities, a veterinary practice, and health facilities, as well as good accessibility to Diss and Bury St Edmunds via the A143.
The village primary school, Stanton Community Primary School, was located in Bury Lane until relatively recently. It has now moved to the former middle school site on the eastern edge of the village in Upthorpe Road, within 1.75km of the proposed residential area. Some of the buildings on the site have been mothballed, following the move, and the site is a large one with capacity for expansion. The most recent forecasts for the school show that capacity is currently available. However, the likely number of children that could be generated by the proposed residential neighbourhood depends on the number of dwellings being proposed. Only when the development exceeds around 400 dwellings would the number of primary school aged children generated by the development not be able to be accommodated at the school.
The nearest secondary schools are at Ixworth (Ixworth Free School) and Thurston (Thurston Community College). The latest forecasts for these schools show a reducing number of available/spare places, but overall, some spare capacity at present. However, significant new development has been permitted within the Thurston catchment over the last year, which has yet to be accounted for in the latest forecasts. The County Council has therefore advised
that it should be assumed that there will be no available capacity at secondary and post-16 level to serve residential development within the site, and that therefore full contributions will be sought as part of any Section 106 Agreement.
Stanton Community Health Centre is located in The Chase and is operated by Suffolk Primary Care Trust. The Centre operates a branch of the Ixworth Surgery (under Dr Nicholas Redman) and is open every day except Saturdays and Sundays. The surgery has just over 9,000 registered patients and is accepting new patients who live within the catchment area.
The Masterplan area is not located within, or adjoining, any Conservation Areas (see Figure 14). The nearest Conservation Areas are located at Stanton (2km to the west), Wattisfield (1.5km to the east), and Walsham Le Willows (2km to the south east). While there are a number of Listed Buildings in the surrounding villages, there are no Listed Buildings within the Masterplan area and only four Listed Buildings within 500 metres of the boundary of the Masterplan area (Redhouse Farmhouse, High Elm Farmhouse, The Poplars, and Aspen Hall, which are all Grade II listed).