Yoxford: Developer accused of ‘cynical attempt’ to silence opponents over housing
08:40 06 February 2014
A developer has been accused of making a “cynical attempt” to silence a key opponent of its proposed east Suffolk housing scheme in advance of a major planning inquiry.
Yoxford Cricket Club has confirmed it was offered land by Hopkins Homes in return for withdrawing opposition to the 26 property development planned for the village.
The club had previously raised concerns about the scheme’s close proximity to its pitch boundary, which members felt would pose a safety risk and insurance difficulties.
Club chairman Stephen Beaumont said an offer of land to create a greater buffer zone between pitch and housing may have been considered. However the land put forward by Hopkins Homes, on the other side of the pitch, was “of no benefit to the cricket club”.
“Nothing has been offered that will alleviate the concerns of cricket balls going onto the new development,” he said. “We feel that whatever the developer may say, the owners of the new homes will eventually complain and that will eventually lead to the club being asked to play a different way or stop altogether.”
With a public inquiry into the application starting on Tuesday, opponents to the scheme have met news of the offer with suspicion.
Tim Williams, a leading force behind the public campaign, said: “We feel it’s a cynical attempt to buy off the opposition of the cricket club, which has a strong case and a lot of support in the village.”
Mr Williams also claimed the developer’s refusal to extend the cricket club’s current lease of the land, due to expire in 2023, was evidence of their long term plans to build more housing in the village.
“I feel they’re more interested in their own development than in the sustainability of the village.”
Mr Williams, Mr Beaumont and other opponents to the scheme, including Sir Paul Newell, are hoping to speak at next week’s public inquiry before the Planning Inspectorate. Their arguments will focus on the likely impact on the cricket club as well as the loss of historic parkland posed by the development.
Hopkins Homes has previously defended its choice of site for the development as being “highlighted as a potentially suitable location for development within Yoxford by the local planning authority”
Suffolk Coastal District Council, which refused the original application, will be arguing to the Planning Inspectorate for its decision to be upheld.
The meeting is scheduled to take place over two days at Suffolk Coastal’s chambers in Woodbridge starting on Tuesday.