Developer resubmits plans for controversial Cornard housing scheme
A renewed bid for more than 150 homes in an area that featured in a Gainsborough masterpiece could get the go-ahead - despite councillors branding the original scheme “hideous”.
In April 2013, a first application from Persimmon Homes to build on a 31-acre site east of Carsons Drive in Great Cornard was unanimously rejected by officers and councillors at Babergh District Council.
Now the EADT can reveal a revised application has been made - and it is being recommended for the green light by planners.
The first application was described as one of the “most objected to” plans ever to be considered by the local authority.
It was claimed the mix of two-storey properties, bungalows and flats looked “like a prison block” and councillors feared the development would blight the landscape, which is believed to feature in the painting Cornard Woods by Thomas Gainsborough.
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At the time, committee chairman and Cornard councillor Peter Beer condemned the original proposed house and garage designs as some of the most “hideous” ever to go before the council.
He said: “We need more houses but the days of saying ‘anything goes’ in Cornard are gone. We need to have good design and if the developers think this is good design, they are on another planet.”
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But Persimmon Homes planning consultant Ray Ricks criticised the officer’s report, which he said did not provide any “balance”. The company subsequently appealed against the decision and the planning inspector dismissed the appeal on matters relating to design and layout.
The revised plan for 166 homes including 58 affordable homes, which is due to be discussed by Babergh’s planning committee on May 27, has this time been recommended for approval by council officers.
Martin Davidson, land director at Persimmon Homes Anglia, said the resubmitted scheme sought to address concerns raised by the planning inspector.
He told the EADT: “The appropriateness of the site for development is not in question, as evidenced by the council’s recommendation that the scheme is approved.
“The proposal for 166 dwellings incorporates 35% affordable housing units, a recreation park, strategic landscaping and ecological enhancement scheme and reinforces existing public rights of way.”
Mark Newman, Babergh councillor for Great Cornard South who has campaigned against the scheme on behalf of disgruntled locals, said he was “extremely disappointed” that Persimmon had come back with an application and feared it would get council backing this time.
He added: “I can’t see that there is a lot of difference between this application and the previous one. The number of homes has only been reduced by four and I still don’t like the blocks of garages or the three-storey buildings.
“It went to appeal, Persimmon have addressed the few things the inspector pointed out and have come back. I still say it’s in the wrong place but they have sunk a lot of money into this and I’m afraid there is little reason for it not to get through this time.”
Great Cornard Parish Council, Sudbury Town Council, Suffolk Preservation Society and English Heritage have all objected to the revised scheme, as have the owners of the 13th-Century Grade I-listed Abbas Hall which is close to the site.
Due to housing need in the area, Great Cornard is earmarked for new homes in Babergh’s core strategy.