Proposals for new retirement apartments in Lavenham have been recommended for refusal by planners.

McCarthy Stone Retirement Lifestyles' plans are set to be discussed by next Wednesday's (October 19) Babergh planning committee.

The plans would see commercial buildings at the Water Street site - currently used by Lavenham Press - demolished to make way for 33 apartments.

The scheme - which is made up of a mix of one- bedroom and two-bedroom apartments spread over two storeys - would follow the planned relocation of the Lavenham Press.

A total of 27 residents and four visitor parking spaces are included.

The plans did receive a backlash from residents and groups, including the Lavenham Society, concerned about the lack of affordable homes, "insufficient" number of parking spaces and the site being too densely developed, among other issues.

Lavenham Parish Council was also concerned about the "inappropriate for the location" design of the building as well as the number of homes included - which contradicts the 2016 Neighbourhood Plan.

A statement from McCarthy Stone says: "Since submitting a planning application in June 2021, McCarthy Stone has been working closely with the local planning authority and conservation officers to evolve our proposals for Lavenham.

Sudbury Mercury: The site layout for the projectThe site layout for the project (Image: Inspire Design Ltd)

"This includes reducing the number of units and scale of the scheme, while also collaborating with Babergh District Council to bring forward a design that feels in-keeping with its historic surrounds.

"With Lavenham Press seeking a move to a more suitable local location for their business needs, we felt our proposals provided an opportunity to utilise and regenerate the site, providing the much-needed specialist retirement accommodation that is outlined as required in Policy H6 of the Lavenham Neighbourhood Plan.

"Given our extensive work with Babergh District Council to bring forward a scheme that meets the needs of local people, and is suitable for the site and supports a local business’ aspirations to relocate, we are disappointed that the plans have been recommended for refusal."

The planning officers' report on the project - which recommends the committee refuses the plans - says: "Notwithstanding the broad spatial advantages of the proposal’s sustainable location for a residential development, and the possible improvement to residential amenity; the loss of employment, the design of the scheme with its resultant heritage harm, the insufficient information regarding flooding and the lack of affordable housing all count against the scheme."