West Suffolk Local Plan (Regulation 18) Issues and Options October 2020

2.4. Mildenhall

2.4.1 Mildenhall is a market town with a population of approximately 9,133 (2018 mid-year estimate) close to the A11 eleven kilometres north-east of Newmarket, 14 kilometres south-west of Thetford and 19 kilometres north-west of Bury St Edmunds. There are a good range of services and amenities available including:

  • two community centres
  • district and town council offices
  • a fire station
  • a police station
  • two dental practices
  • one high school academy (age 11 to 18 years)
  • two primary schools
  • two GP surgeries
  • three nursing homes
  • an ambulance station
  • a library
  • swimming pool and leisure centre
  • a museum.

2.4.2 Building work on the Mildenhall Hub started in the spring of 2019. This project integrates community and public services, and will create a bigger school, leisure facilities including a new larger swimming pool as well as a health centre, children’s centre, public library, job centre, Citizen’s Advice Bureau as well as space for Suffolk Police, West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council.

2.4.3 Mildenhall is a centre for employment in manufacturing, engineering, pharmaceuticals and electronics, mainly located in premises to the north of the town, with some office space in the town centre.

2.4.4 The town centre offers a range of shops and services including two supermarkets, local convenience stores, comparison shops and services, restaurants and public houses and a bus station providing good public transport links with other towns and villages.

2.4.5 An extensive area of woodland adjoins the town to the east and north-east that is designated for its nature conservation value. The River Lark and its water meadows are a key natural characteristic south of the town providing a green and blue corridor used for leisure and recreation and links to nearby settlements. To the north-west is RAF Mildenhall, an active military base currently occupied by the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). To the west is open arable farmland.

Constraints and opportunities

  • The planned expansion of the town to the west will provide the opportunity to create an area of new natural greenspace, such as a country park, to maintain and protect biodiversity interests in the area.
  • Coalescence with surrounding settlements such as Barton Mills, Worlington and The Rows should be avoided.
  • Land to the east of the settlement lies within the Breckland Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
  • There are aircraft noise constraint zones to the north of the town associated with RAF Mildenhall airbase flight paths.
  • Higher levels of growth are likely to require additional or expanded schools.
  • Breckland Special Protection Area designated for stone curlew, woodlark and nightjar and its constraint zones restrict growth to the east of the settlement.
  • Road junction capacity in the town is constrained and future growth beyond that already planned in the former Forest Heath area Site Allocations Local Plan (2019) will affect capacity at the Fiveways A11/A1101/A1065 roundabout which may require mitigation.
  • Land to the south of the settlement adjacent to the River Lark lies within Flood Zones 2 and 3 according to data provided by the Environment Agency.
  • There remains uncertainty over the timing and consequences of the withdrawal of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) from RAF Mildenhall post 2027 and the future use of the site.
  • The Mildenhall Hub project will bring together public services in one accessible place and include better leisure facilities.
  • There is the potential for a district heating network to be provided as part of new major development.

Site options

2.4.6 The level of development will be influenced by the settlement strategy which will determine the distribution of development across the district as well as the existing environmental and physical constraints and the overall capacity for growth in the settlement.

2.4.7 A number of sites have been submitted to the council by landowners and developers for potential inclusion in the local plan. Included sites in the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) that lie within or adjacent to the settlement boundary are shown on the map below, as these have passed the initial tests of being suitable, available and achievable, and so are more likely to be sites that could be suitable for allocation in the local plan.

2.4.8 It is important to note that at this stage these sites have not been selected as preferred sites for development, but we are seeking views on them to assist with the preparation of the next draft of the plan, where decisions will be made on which, if any, sites would be suitable for allocation.

2.4.9 The table below provides information on these sites, setting out information on the proposed use and planning status. Also below is a map of the main settlement constraints to assist you in making a response.

2.4.10 Your comments on these sites will help in drawing up the next draft of the West Suffolk Local Plan for consultation in 2021. This will set out the council’s preferred options for the distribution of housing and other land uses across the district. The council will also consult on the preferred sites across the district to achieve this distribution.

Mildenhall settlement constraints map


Mildenhall settlement map showing SHELAA included sites

Please note - site WS204 falls within the parish of Barton Mills

Mildenhall – included SHELAA sites

2020 reference

Site name

Area (hectares)

Proposed use

Current use
planning status

Indicative capacity*[1]


Land west of Mildenhall, south of West Row Road


Mixed use

allocated SA4(a)
Hub under construction



Council Offices, College Heath Road



Council offices and residential
allocated SA5(b)



Land at Wamil Court



Former care home and residential



Land to west of Folly Road






Land at 54 Kingsway



Plant nursery
allocated SA5(a)



Land off West Row Road, Mildenhall






Mildenhall Academy and Dome Leisure Centre site



Allocated SA17(a)


1. *an indicative capacity of 30 dwellings per hectare is applied unless the site is already allocated or has planning permission. For sites over 100 dwellings, 40 per cent of land set aside for infrastructure. [back]