Broadcaster backs preservation campaign

A THRIVING campaign to safeguard some of Suffolk's best-known landscapes from the threat of a housing development has received a major boost from a famous face.

A THRIVING campaign to safeguard some of Suffolk's best-known landscapes from the threat of a housing development has received a major boost from a famous face.

Renowned broadcaster David Dimbleby has made a direct appeal to developer Persimmon Homes to pull out of plans to build homes on land made famous by the painter Thomas Gainsborough.

His plea comes just days after he agreed to become vice-president of the Friends of Save Gainsborough Country Action Group, which was formed to fight the proposals at Great Cornard, near Sudbury.

And Mr Dimbleby, who is a shareholder in Persimmon, said he was confident that the protests would pay off after more than 1,500 signed up in support of the action group.


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Mr Dimbleby said: “Cornard Wood is most famous by far as one of those landscapes. It does have a rather wonderful atmosphere, especially to think that he [Gainsborough] bunked off school to go and draw there.

“In terms of Gainsborough, I think the housing company should not develop there as they will do themselves damage if they go ahead.

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“But I think there's a very good chance, when they realise they have stirred up a hornet's nest, they will back off.”

The action group was formed after plans to build 170 homes were announced over the Stour Valley slopes above Carsons Drive and below Grade I-listed Abbas Hall.

If approved, campaigners have warned that views, depicted in some of Gainsborough's most famous paintings, would be lost forever.

Mr Dimbleby, who featured the landscape in his popular BBC1 programme A Picture Of Britain, has followed in the footsteps of fellow broadcaster Martin Bell and renowned Gainsborough expert Hugh Belsey in supporting the campaign.

Stefan Kosciuszko, action group chairman, said: “The strength of feeling against this proposed development is now reaching a crescendo.

“We have been signing up supporters at the rate of over one per minute when Action Group members have been standing in Sudbury Market Hill, the birthplace of Gainsborough.

“We now have more than 1,500 supporters signed up and objection forms are flooding into Babergh District offices.

“I urge everyone to call, obtain and sign a form and send it back to Babergh.”

Persimmon Homes declined to comment on the plans last night.

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