Long Melford: Villagers’ concerns about housing plans
11:00 12 December 2012
RESIDENTS of a picturesque Suffolk tourist hotspot, who are protesting against a 51-home development in their village, fear their concerns are not being taken seriously by the district council.
According to a neighbourhood group set up to fight plans to develop the former Fleetwood Caravans site in Long Melford, 250 letters of objection have been sent to councillors and staff at Babergh’s planning department. A petition containing more than 850 signatures was also delivered to the council’s officers last month protesting against the application by David Wilson Homes to build the housing estate off Hall Street in the heart of the village’s conservation area.
David Wilson Homes gave two presentations in Long Melford earlier this year, putting forward their vision for the site. The official public consultation period for the plans has now closed. But group member Vivian Woodward said residents had not received any respsonse from Babergh concerning the points they had raised in their letters and petition.
He added: “There has been such a lot of opposition to this and Babergh has not repsonded to anything we have said. In order to satisfy the huge amount of public oppostion to this development, we feel that the council and the developers owe it to us to come to the village, hold a public meeting and give us some answers.”
Another group member, Christine Watts, said there was a mixture of “despair and outrage” in the village because it appeared that the weight of residents’ concerns was “falling on deaf ears”. She added: “The planners and developers have been in detailed discussions about what changes are needed to allow approval (for the plans), but what these discussions are about, the villagers have yet to discover. And all this is against the backdrop of the Localism Bill, which is supposed to enable people to get involved and have a say about the future of their villages.”
Residents want to see the site retained for business purposes in a bid to create employment in the village.
Their main concerns about the plans are the “inadequate and dangerous” access to the site, increased demand for parking on the high street and the scale of the development.The county highways department has recommended the application be refused on similar grounds. A Babergh spokesman said a request for a meeting with residents had only just been received. The authority confirmed that about 75 letters of objection had been sent to the council with others sent to individual councillors. The plans have not yet been scheduled to go before Babergh’s planning committee.