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Fight launched to stop Saxmundham ‘Layers’ being ‘destroyed forever’

PUBLISHED: 18:49 17 October 2017

An aerial view showing The Layers at Saxmundham - two possible development schemes have been brought forward for the site. Picture: MIKE PAGE

An aerial view showing The Layers at Saxmundham - two possible development schemes have been brought forward for the site. Picture: MIKE PAGE

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The Layers on the edge of Saxmundham has been enjoyed and used by residents for more than a century for recreation, as venue for the Suffolk Show, a camp for troops in the Second World War, farmland, and as a haven for wildlife.

The Layers being used for the Suffolk Show in 1925 The Layers being used for the Suffolk Show in 1925

But now Hopkins Homes has proposed building up to 225 houses on the 50-acre site, plus a £4.35million primary school and country park, while a consultant’s report has suggested The Layers could be developed as an accommodation campus for construction workers for Sizewell C.

The Leave The Layers Alone campaign, launched to fight plans for the site stretching from South Entrance alongside and partly straddling the B1121, next to the rail line, as far as Benhall Green, said either option would “destroy the historic landscape forever and place a potentially catastrophic burden on Saxmundham’s oldest and most fragile neighbourhoods” around the town centre and conservation area.

It said its petition aimed to give a clear and determined signal to potential developers that local people do not want The Layers to be destroyed by building.

Christopher Lucas, a Saxmundham resident who is part of the campaign group, said: “Thankfully residents, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Saxmundham Town Council and Benhall and Sternfield Parish Council have demanded that an Environmental Impact Assessment is carried out.

“The promise of a new primary school has also misled many people. The proposal is that Hopkins only provide space for a new school should someone choose to build one in the future.”

Even more recently, a consultant’s report has suggested that The Layers could be a site for building a huge accommodation campus for Sizewell C construction workers.

Mr Lucas said: “The burden of such a construction would have potentially catastrophic impact on the infrastructure of Saxmundham, but not only that. If a short term development such as this were allowed to go ahead, it would leave behind a contaminated brownfield site that would then be open to further development.”

It’s thought that the name The Layers comes from an area to ‘lay’ livestock up, before taking it to market in Saxmundham.

Planning consultants Armstrong Rigg Planning, for Hopkins Homes, said: “Hopkins Homes have entered into early discussions with Suffolk County Council in respect of the potential of the site to accommodate a primary school alongside housing development in order to address this local need.

“The current proposals were positively received and it was confirmed that the site is well connected for future growth.”

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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.