RESIDENTS of a picturesque Suffolk tourist hotspot, who are protesting against a 51-home development in their village, have delivered a strong message to the district council.

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Around 30 Long Melford residents hired a bus to drive them to Babergh District Council’s offices in Hadleigh yesterday morning, where they handed over a petition signed by almost 850 people.

The move came as the public consultation period for an application by David Wilson Homes to build a housing estate in the heart of the village’s conservation area, drew to a close. The site just off Hall Street was formerly owned by Fleetwood Caravans, and when the firm closed down in 2009, 80 jobs were lost. Residents want to see the site used for business purposes in a bid to create employment in the village. According to the protestors, the main concerns about the plans are the “inadequate and dangerous” access to the development, the scale of the project and the extra traffic it would create. Fears have also been raised that it could increase parking problems and have a knock-on effect on tourism and local businesses.

The county highways department has recommended the application be refused on the grounds of road and personal safety, poor access for vehicles and pedestrians and the impact on transport infrastructure.

Outside the council offices yesterday, where Babergh’s democratic services manager Steve Ellwood accepted the petition, one of the campaigners, Sheila Woodward said: “Long Melford has a unique high street which we have to protect, but this protest is not just about aesthetics. We are not against houses or development but we feel a lower density of housing on the site with some commercial premises would be more appropriate.”

She added: “We have delivered the petition today in this way because we felt no-one was taking note of our objections.” Another resident Graham Bragg added: “The GP practice and the village school are already struggling to keep up with demand so if you add another 100 people or more to the village, our infrastructure will not cope.” Planning manager for David Wilson Homes, Peter Biggs, said the company would welcome the opportunity to discuss any revised plans and potential issues with residents.

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