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Long Melford: Planning inspector backs decision to reject controversial development

PUBLISHED: 16:00 18 June 2014

The access road to the proposed David Wilson Homes development was deemed unsafe for pedestrians

The access road to the proposed David Wilson Homes development was deemed unsafe for pedestrians

Villagers who campaigned against a 51-home development in the heart of their historic village have scored a victory after a planning inspector upheld a decision to reject the controversial scheme.

David Wilson Homes’ plans to develop the former Fleetwood Caravans factory site in Long Melford were thrown out by Babergh District Council last June on the grounds of pedestrian safety.

Planning committee members said access to the site – including roads and pavements – was “inadequate and dangerous”.

The developer submitted an appeal to the Secretary of State and a three-day public inquiry took place earlier this year, attended by around 50 Long Melford residents who set up a protest group to fight the application.

It has just been announced that planning inspector Isobel McCretton has decided to uphold Babergh’s decision. In her report, she said although there were benefits of using brownfield sites for development – especially for affordable housing provision – the safety of pedestrians was paramount.

She added: “The scale of the development proposed increases the potential for vehicle/pedestrian conflict.

“As such I find that the proposal would not provide safe and suitable access for all people, as required by the (national planning policy) framework, and would be detrimental to vehicular and pedestrian safety.”

Ms McCretton said as Babergh had already 
demonstrated a five-year supply of housing land, there was no immediate imperative for the site to be used for new homes.

Peter Beer, chairman of the council’s planning committee, was pleased with the outcome.

He added: “Babergh’s planning committee thoroughly considered the report and debated the matter in an open and transparent manner.

“The public inquiry was extremely well attended where Babergh successfully defended its decision.”

According to Long Melford Parish Council chairman Peter Turner, the planning application for the Fleetwood site was “lacking on some important practical aspects”.

He said: “It is pleasing to hear the planning inspector took note of the views of many local people. The parish council is not against the principle of development on this site but let’s get it right.”

A David Wilson Homes spokesman said: “David Wilson Homes is disappointed with the inspector’s decision to refuse the appeal.

“We will be taking time to reflect on the decision notice and will be reviewing our options going forward.”

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