Great Cornard: Duke visits $6million regeneration project

HRH The Duke of Kent officially opens Applegate Mews in Great Cornard.

HRH The Duke of Kent officially opens Applegate Mews in Great Cornard. - Credit: Archant

The final phase of a £6million development, which has revitalised a run-down residential and commercial area in west Suffolk, has been officially opened by the Duke of Kent.

Duke of Kent with the Heritage family at their new home in Applegate Mews

Duke of Kent with the Heritage family at their new home in Applegate Mews - Credit: Archant

He visited the recently completed Applegate Mews in Great Cornard’s Poplar Road yesterday afternoon, and talked to families who had just moved into the complex, which has been described as ‘cutting edge urban regeneration in a village setting’.

The original Poplar Road shops, built in the 1970s, had become scruffy and outdated, and were a target for vandalism. They were bulldozed to make way for the new development, which has been designed to address the long-term sustainability of the community.

The first phase, which opened in March 2012, included 12 one-bedroom flats and nine two-bedroom flats. Now complete, the development comprises 44 affordable homes and six shops.

The regeneration scheme is a partnership between non-profit housing group Flagship, Babergh District Council, North Cornard Regeneration Group and Great Cornard Parish Council. The Homes and Communities Agency contributed a further £1.6m towards the project.

Babergh chief executive Charlie Adan described the initiative as a great example of a joint venture between developers, the community and the council.

The idea for the regeneration of Great Cornard was put forward in 2002 and followed on from the Anglia Estate Improvement Scheme, which saw the refurbishment of council stock inherited from Greater London Council. That project was officially opened by the Duke of Kent in Great Cornard, and he was invited back yesterday to see the progress that had been made.

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He planted a commemorative ‘Royal red’ tree and told the assembled crowds that he was “delighted to see such a transformation” to the area. He said the families he had spoken to were “absolutely delighted” with their new homes.

Among them were Nichola and Terry Heritage, their daughter Bethany, 14, and eight year old son Oliver, who suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The family had their original home in Cornard repossessed after Mr Heritage was made redundant. Mrs Heritage said: “We are so lucky to get this new house close to the school and play area for Oliver, and near to friends and family. We were nervous but excited to have the Duke as one of our first visitors.”

Great Cornard south councillor Mark Newman, who used to live in a flat above the former butchers shop in Poplar Road during the 80s said: “It had mould on the wall and was in a terrible state. The place was in dire need of regeneration and it really is unrecognisable now.”

The development is named after former parish clerk Gill Applegate, who died in December 2009. She had served in the role for 14 years. Her daughter Emmeline Applegate said: “We used to come to the shops with mum when we were kids so for this to be named after her is such an honour. She would not be able to believe the changes that have taken place in the area.”