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Easton: Controversial housing plans are a ‘violation of the countryside’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 February 2014

File photo ofa housing estate being built

File photo ofa housing estate being built

Archant

Housing planned for an east Suffolk village would be out of character with its surroundings, cut off from the community and should be rejected, councillors have resolved.

Easton Parish Council voted to recommend the refusal of Hopkins and Moore’s 17 dwelling development in the village on Monday night after more than 30 public opponents to the scheme turned out to watch.

Speaking in the public forum, residents raised concerns about the scale of the proposal, its impact on wildlife and the perceived problems with traffic – an ongoing issue in the village.

Sue Piggott highlighted the 28 letters of objection the application had received compared with the three in support as evidence of the strength of feeling, while Carolyn Godfrey-Hollins described it as a “violation of the countryside”.

Robert Eburne, a planning manager for Hopkins and Moore, responded to the criticisms, saying there was a “definite need for housing – particularly in Easton”.

He also highlighted the new car park the developer had offered Easton Primary School as an example of the benefits it could bring.

“We would commend this project to you because it’s unlike any other development in that it proposes wider benefits for the community,” he said.

Although parish chairman John Owen conceded the application was “possibly the only chance this council will get to resolve the car parking problem”, most councillors felt its benefits failed to outweigh the development’s adverse impacts.

Councillor Bob Gibbon said: “I don’t think we should sacrifice a big swathe of unspoilt countryside even if there are other benefits.”

Councillor John Kerr, the only member to vote in favour of the application, suggested the parking issue in the village was an “accident waiting to happen” and welcomed anything to improve the situation.

Mr Kerr also felt the council should not “dodge its responsibilities” by rejecting housing, and accused his colleagues of “nimbyism”.

Councillors, however, voted to recommend refusal by a margin of five to one. They also recommended conditions for Suffolk Coastal District Council to impose on the developer if it decided to approve the application.

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David Vincent

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EADT writer David Vincent has more than 40 years experience in Suffolk. He has explored the highways and byeways of East Anglia, meeting homeowners, developers and estate agents from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh and Colchester to Diss.