Villagers who have been campaigning for more than a year against a 51-home development in the heart of their village are awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry.

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David Wilson Homes submitted plans to develop the former Fleetwood Caravans factory site at Long Melford but the scheme was rejected by Babergh District Council last June on the grounds of pedestrian safety.

Council officers backed the proposal but the planning committee said access to the site – including roads and pavements – was “inadequate and dangerous”.

Committee members were concerned that the development would lead to the loss of employment land and an increase in demand for parking on the busy main street. They were also unhappy about the number of buildings included in the scheme.

However following the knock back, David Wilson Homes submitted an appeal to the Secretary of State and a three-day public inquiry took place last week at Hadleigh Town Hall.

Despite ongoing protests from more than 50 Long Melford residents, the company claims it has support from many who are keen to secure more affordable housing for the village.

But the protestors including members of the Fleetwood Caravans Neighbourhood Group turned out in force, hiring a 33-seater bus to take them to the hearing, which started last Tuesday. A planning inspector heard arguments for and against the scheme, which would include 18 affordable homes.

Long Melford Parish Council submitted a detailed response to the inspector focusing on the technical aspects of the site.

Council chairman Peter Turner stressed that villagers were not against development, but he said they believed the number of homes proposed for the site should be reduced.

He added: “We are certainly not ‘nimbys’ or anti-development and we accept that the Fleetwood site has been earmarked for some sort of development.

“Our main concern is that the development as proposed by David Wilson Homes compromises pedestrian safety because of the narrow access road and the lack of footpaths.”

Following the inquiry, a spokesman for the developer said: “David Wilson Homes believes that this sustainably located scheme provides safe vehicular and pedestrian access together with a number of community benefits such as affordable housing and public open space.

“We made our case to the inspector and look forward to receiving her decision in due course.”

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