CAMPAIGNERS against a proposal to build 51 homes in the middle of an historic west Suffolk village have criticised developers for advertising the properties for sale before the plans have been given the go-ahead.

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David Wilson Homes – part of the Barratt Homes group – has submitted a proposal to Babergh District Council for the development in Long Melford on the former Fleetwood Caravans factory site, which is in a conservation area.

The scheme has attracted criticism from a local action group, which wants to see the site retained for commercial purposes. The county council’s highways department has also expressed concerns about access to the site and potential associated traffic problems.

Babergh’s planning department is yet to set a date for the application to be discussed. Fleetwood Caravan Neighbourhood Group representative Christine Watts has accused David Wilson Homes of “jumping the planning gun” because it has already advertised the properties for sale on its website.

She said: “We were amazed to discover that the developer has begun to promote its properties weeks before the planning process has been completed.

“On their website they say they are delighted to offer a mix of 51 three and four--bedroom property types and say that the development is ‘coming soon’. The Long Melford campaigners are left wondering why the developer is so confident it will be given the thumbs-up.”

She added: “They are promoting Long Melford (as a place to live) as having a real sense of community. However, the views of that very same community as expressed in a public meeting, a petition signed by 850 people and 300 letters of objection written to Babergh planners and councillors, have been paid scant regard by the developer.”

A spokeswoman for Babergh confirmed planning permission had not yet been granted for the development, and that no date had been set for the application to go before the planning committee.

However, she said promoting the houses for sale on the company’s website without planning consent in place “did not contravene any planning legislation” and it was “not unusual” for larger housing developers to do this.

Peter Biggs, planning manager at David Wilson Homes Eastern said the company was committed to working within Babergh’s decision-making process and was aware that further work with the council would be required before any decision on this application could be taken.

He added: “As such, the webpage has been removed from the David Wilson Homes website and we apologise for any concern this has caused.”

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