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Charsfield: Rejection urged for ‘Akenfield’ housing development appeal

10:15 31 January 2014

Akenfield sign (Photo: Peggy Cole Collection)

Akenfield sign (Photo: Peggy Cole Collection)

Developers are hoping to build nine new homes on the edge of a Suffolk village once used for the on-screen portrayal of a countryside idyll.

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The site lies at the corner of a field on opposite sides of Chapel Lane and The Street, in Charsfield, near Woodbridge, which was one of the settings for 1974 film Akenfield, based on the book by Ronald Blythe.

A report by planning officers, set to go before Suffolk Coastal next week, recommends refusal of the application, which will now be determined by the Planning Inspectorate after the district council failed to meet its eight-week target for a decision.

Although the proposal has been taken out of local control, planners will still need to inform the inspector of their intended decision.

The application has received objection from nearby residents and the parish council, mainly regarding its perceived impact on the landscape and character of the area featured in Peter Hall’s film, which was acted out by real-life villagers of the time, including author and MBE recipient Peggy Cole.

An assessment of land availability had ruled out the site for development as ‘not well related to the existing settlement’, but did not discount the potential for housing elsewhere in the village.

The proposal, which was originally submitted on September 20 last year, includes four affordable semi-detached homes and five detached open market homes with garages.

An amended application was made in response to local concerns on December 16 but will not be considered by planners next week because it was submitted just four days before the launch of an appeal against the council’s delayed decision on the original bid.

In October, the parish council voted unanimously to object to the planning application, saying there was “no local support” for the proposed housing, which would be located just outside the defined physical limits of the village.

A further 24 letters or emails of objection were sent to the district council by local residents and a planning consultant on their behalf.

Suffolk Preservation Society and the county council’s highway authority has supported the parish council’s objection.

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