Campaign to keep land appears to be won

A CAMPAIGN to preserve land in the heart of Gainsborough country looks set to have been won after a four-year battle.Plans to double the size of a popular pitch and putt facility in Great Cornard appear to have finally been scuppered after an appeal against a district council decision was dismissed.

A CAMPAIGN to preserve land in the heart of Gainsborough country looks set to have been won after a four-year battle.

Plans to double the size of a popular pitch and putt facility in Great Cornard appear to have finally been scuppered after an appeal against a district council decision was dismissed.

The owners of Old Joe's Road Pitch and Putt, in Joes Road, were told by a government inspector that plans to expand would be harmful to the character and appearance of the countryside surrounding Abbas Hall.

The proposal to turn the pitch and putt into 18 holes would have meant building too close to the Grade I listed building and near ancient woodland.


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Stefan Kosciuszko, who lives at the 720-year-old hall, said: "I am absolutely delighted the inspectors have made it very clear in a short and simple and well argued dismissal of the appeal.

"This is vindication at the home of Gainsborough country and will hopefully put a stop on any further suburban-type development in what is going to be, under the current local plan, a special landscape area.

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"The important aspect of the inspector's findings was to safeguard the hall, when many of Gainsborough's views have been painted from and which is part of the fabric of British history.

"Gainsborough country is very special and I of course hope no further developments like this come forward."

Although owners F Fison and Son had offered to plant part of the field to extend the ancient woodland and further screen the hall, inspector Ava Wood dismissed their appeal.

Following a site visit on April 28, Mrs Wood described the value and historic importance of Abbas Hall as "undisputable".

In her report, Mrs Wood said: "Despite the presence of the adjacent driving range, I noted there is a sense of undisturbed rural quality about the area.

"There are a few houses in Joe's Road but this is essentially a rural location.

"To my mind, the proposal would amount to a clear and unacceptable incursion of activities into an area of countryside that is tranquil and relatively undisturbed."

Great Cornard Parish Council and resident and countryside associations campaigned against the expansion.

Representatives from Gainsborough's House in Sudbury also objected on the grounds that the area was the subject of one of artist Thomas Gainsborough's paintings.

The decision appears to end the owners' chances of expanding the pitch and putt after a planning application was first submitted in 1999.

Their appeal centred on a decision from Babergh District Council who turned down a further application in August.

No one at the driving range was available to comment.

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