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

3.5. Lakenheath

3.5.1 Lakenheath has a population of approximately 5,305 (2018 mid-year estimate). It is located in the north-west of the district, approximately 10 kilometres south-west of Brandon and approximately nine kilometres north of Mildenhall. RAF Lakenheath airbase is located immediately east of the settlement. Lakenheath is a sizable village with a good range of facilities including:

  • a library
  • public houses
  • heath care facilities
  • a primary school
  • nurseries
  • convenience shops
  • a range of open spaces and leisure facilities.

Constraints and opportunities

  • There are open spaces and sports provision, including a sports grounds, non-pitch sports area, allotments and play space.
  • Services in the settlement include three GPs in one surgery. There is a library, Lakenheath Memorial Hall, scout hall, football club and Royal British Legion hall.
  • There is a Ministry of Defence (MOD) safeguarded zone around the airbase.
  • A special area of conservation (SAC) zone lies to the south-east of Lakenheath.
  • Land within Flood Zones 2 and 3 to the north, west and south of the settlement, according to the Environment Agency’s mapping.
  • A large part of West Suffolk contains a European site designation for stone curlew. The special protection area (SPA) and its buffer zones are shown in the constraints map below.
  • The Ministry of Defence (MOD) have published information indicating there are noise constraints covering Lakenheath due to aircraft landing at and taking off from RAF Lakenheath. These are shown on the constraint maps. As the aircraft noise constraint data is updated it will be used to inform the determination of planning applications and the local plan.
  • Maids Cross Hill Local Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) lies to the south-east of Lakenheath.
  • A county wildlife site (CWS) lies to the east of Lakenheath.
  • The settlement has one primary school which is at capacity and a further site for a 420 place primary school to the north of the village has been granted planning permission.
  • There is a range of shops and services, including a Co-op convenience store, a post office, a bank and several public houses.
  • There is a conservation area in the centre, along with a number of listed buildings.

Settlement status

3.5.2 The village is designated as a key service centre in the current local plan in recognition of the important role it has to play in serving the residents of the village and those who live in the surrounding rural area. Lakenheath provides a number of key services and facilities that meet the villages own needs, and the needs of other nearby smaller settlements. It is proposed that the village maintains its status and is designated as a key service centre in the new West Suffolk settlement hierarchy.

3.5.3 The former Forest Heath area Site Allocations Local Plan (2019) allocated three sites for residential use that are expected to deliver approximately 288 dwellings and two mixed use sites for a new primary school, an A1 (retail use) store and a further approximately 388 dwellings.

Site options

3.5.4  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.

3.5.5 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.

3.5.6 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.

3.5.7 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.

3.5.8 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.

Lakenheath settlement constraints map


Lakenheath settlement map showing SHELAA included sites


Lakenheath - included SHELAA sites

2020 reference

Site name

Area (hectares)

Proposed use

Current use
planning status

Indicative capacity*[1]


Land north of Station Road



Old nursery plantation
allocated SA8(b) – planning application pending decision



Land off Briscoe Way



allocated SA8(c)
planning permission granted



Land north of Burrow Drive and Briscoe Way






Matthews Nursery


Mixed Use

Vacant nursery site
allocated SA7(a) mixed use A1 retail and residential
permission granted for 13 dwellings
application pending for 31 dwellings



35 Station Road






Rabbithill Covert



Agricultural and grassland
allocated SA8(a)
outline permission granted



Land west of Eriswell Road



allocated SA7(b)
outline permission granted


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]