Campaigners fight to save landscape

CAMPAIGNERS against plans to build 170 homes at the heart of landscapes immortalised by Thomas Gainsborough have formed an action group to fight the application.

CAMPAIGNERS against plans to build 170 homes at the heart of landscapes immortalised by Thomas Gainsborough have formed an action group to fight the application.

Residents in Great Cornard last night spoke of their fears that scores of new homes could be built across the River Stour area of the town - the subject of some of Gainsborough's best known work.

Now they have launched a working party against the controversial proposals ahead of a public consultation on the homes, which are included in the latest local plan for the area.

Stefan Kosciuszko, chairman of Save Gainsborough Country Action Group, said every effort would be made to stop the development.


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He said: “The views in these areas across the Stour Valley from Suffolk to Essex are stunning and what is being planned will obliterate the view painted by Gainsborough.

“The area is actively used by local residents for recreational walking and has footpaths, a bridleway and extensive wildlife presence including foxes, badgers, deer, tawny owl and many other species.”

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Mr Kosciuszko said the first residents knew about the development plans was at a Babergh District Council strategy committee meeting - and added that it was not part of the original local plan.

He said: “It has been unjustifiably inserted as a recommendation by the [planning] inspector in spite of being previously rejected by a rigorous assessment conducted by the local plan task force of all potential development sites in Babergh.”

Betty Bone, joint president of the action group, said: “If it went ahead, this development really would change the whole face of the village and we must do all we can to stop it.”

Members claimed the Persimmon Homes development would mean concreting over the Stour Valley slopes above Carsons Drive and the Grade I-listed Abbas Hall.

The area was immortalised in classic Gainsborough paintings including A View Of Cornard Wood - painted by the artist in 1748 from the grounds of the hall - and Mr and Mrs Andrews.

Rich Cooke, acting head of planning policy and economic development at Babergh, said a lot of research had gone into investigating the possible impact on the landscape but said that a planning inquiry had found favour with the scheme.

The action group will be officially launched on Wednesday - just after officers at Babergh District Council outline the proposed scheme at a public meeting, which starts at 7pm at the village's Stevenson Centre.

Persimmon Homes declined to comment on the matter.

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