Long Melford: Bid for 51 homes rejected over concerns for pedestrian safety

Former Fleetwood Caravan site in Long Melford where David Wilson Homes is proposing to build 51 new

Former Fleetwood Caravan site in Long Melford where David Wilson Homes is proposing to build 51 new homes - Credit: Archant

PLANS for a 51-home development in the heart of a historic Suffolk tourist village have been rejected on the grounds of pedestrian safety.

More than 50 people who live in Long Melford attended a planning meeting at Babergh District Council’s Hadleigh offices yesterday, to protest against a proposal by David Wilson Homes to build on the former Fleetwood Caravans site off Hall Street.

They said access to the site was “inadequate and dangerous” and they were concerned the development would increase demand for parking on the busy high street. They were also worried about the loss of employment land.

Although officers recommended the scheme for approval, councillors put forward an alternative proposal to reject the plans on the grounds of “over-development” linked to highways matters, which could “adversely impact on pedestrian safety”.

The county highways department’s refusal to adopt the narrow access route, which would have seen pedestrians sharing the road with incoming and outgoing traffic to the new estate - and to the adjacent public house - proved critical to the decision. Debate over the proposal, which lasted nearly two hours, was heated at times with committee chairman Peter Beer threatening to eject protestors from the council chamber for interrupting speakers.

The council received about 300 letters of objection to the scheme and a petition signed by more than 800 people.

Local member Richard Kemp, who delivered an impassioned speech against the plans, said he had never come across a more emotive application during his 40 years as a councillor.

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His colleague Peter Jones, added: “The is a lot of concern among local people about this and much of that is totally justified. I also have grave concerns about the lack of willingness on the county council’s part to adopt this road.”

But councillor Nick Ridley said: “The parish council says it is not against development and another 51 houses could actually help local businesses rather than being detrimental.”

David Wilson Homes planning manager Peter Biggs said he was disappointed with the outcome, adding: “Our scheme could have provided many benefits to the village, such as much needed affordable housing, as we understand that Long Melford is one of the council’s areas of highest affordable housing need. We will now consider our response going forward.”